ATHENS — A big focus for Athens High School senior Zach Anderson is atmosphere.
The feel of a crowd, the camaraderie, the bonds, the energy — aspects that Anderson loved as a student at Athens Area School District and aspects of what he’ll be looking for as he enters college.
A big country music fan, when asked how many concerts he has been to, Anderson asked, “What, in just the last year?”
In short, too many to count.
It’s that atmosphere that Anderson will chase when he attends college in Nashville, Tenn., as he looks to become a commercial photographer.
“That’s what it’s really all about,” he said. “That atmosphere and that energy — it’s just hard to explain. But you can feel it no matter what the concert is. I’ve seen Eddie Money and Blue Oyster Cult, and it’s pretty similar. But country music is where it’s at for me.”
Anderson’s love for that type of camaraderie can be traced to his involvement on his high school soccer team, which he has been a member of for four years.
“Nothing is comparable to those bonds that you make with your teammates and coaches,” he said. “They become like family — that core group that you can count on. Once I felt that team atmosphere, I just couldn’t step away from it. You create a bond with them and you grow with them.”
Anderson said he recognized that he would be leaving those and other relationships behind when he goes off to college.
“I’m going to miss those relationships for sure,” he said. “It’s definitely going to be very different in college. But I’m going to take it as I go, and I’m kind of anxious to see what I can do on my own.”
Anderson credited the district for preparing him academically for college by allowing him to get a leg up on college courses.
“They offer so many core classes that can earn you college credits,” said Anderson, citing Microsoft Office, AP Government and English as examples. “It definitely help a lot.”
Anderson also noted his involvement in other extracurricular activities has prepared him for college — namely his role as president of the history club.
“I took a lot of the pictures from our trips to Boston and London,” he said. “In fact, most of the photos used in our rotary presentation were ones that I took.”
While he’s excited for the future, Anderson said there’s much he’s going to miss in Athens.
“I’m definitely going to miss soccer, my teammates and coaches, and just screwing around with my friends,” he said. “We all know it’s going to be hard to keep in touch in the future, and you can feel that everyone is getting closer even in the last week or two.”
For his younger classmates and future graduates, Anderson had two words, “get involved.”
“Whether it’s clubs, sports, extracurricular activities — anything — just get involved,” he said. “There’s so much you can learn from other people. Lessons that you can carry through your life. The bottom line is that it really helps.”
The graduation ceremony of this year’s Athens senior class is scheduled for 7 p.m. tonight at Alumni Stadium.