Thoughts with Thornton | Sydney Hecht
His mornings typically start around 5:00 am. Somehow, he seems unfazed by the early nature of the hour. He prepares his coffee and sets out for Orangetheory, his favorite workout spot. After comparing his splat score with his fellow administrators and “surviving” his workout, he goes home, freshens up, and arrives here at CCA, ready to take on his day.
This is the ideal morning routine of CCA’s very own Mr. Garry Thornton. Yesterday, I had the opportunity and privilege of attending a press conference with Mr. Thornton, where he answered numerous questions concerning everything from his most unforgettable high school memory to his thoughts about bikers on campus. There, I learned about not only his perspective on CCA’s culture, but his goals and values as a person. Aside from his unique cadence and his practically unmatched level of CCA spirit, let’s take a closer look at what makes Mr. Thornton, well, Mr. Thornton.
Let’s begin with the basics: Mr. Thornton, an administrator at CCA, has been on campus for six years now. He has worked in education since 1981. Aside from his job, he loves the beach and living in Southern California. His favorite color is blue (which he finds arguably more soothing than the traditionally calming green). He has a golden retriever named Fenway, but only part-time. He is a holiday sweater enthusiast and encourages everyone to wear them “early and often.” He loves the Beatles for their poetic lyrics and knows frighteningly little about Taylor Swift (to which he noted he would make a point to listen to her songs more often). And, of course, he loves CCA. He believes that our passion for learning is what makes Canyon Crest Academy particularly successful and unique.
This sentiment is undeniably accounted for in his goals as an administrator. Surprisingly, a conversation about a famous photo, featuring Mr. Thornton in a pair of bedazzled sunglasses at last year’s prom (find it on @bedazzled_sunnies on Instagram), is what made these values and ambitions clear. When asked about his thoughts on the picture, the conversation took a very unexpected, yet wholesome turn. Both Mr. Thornton’s biggest challenge and goal is to eliminate the perception that he is merely an administrator, and to instead be seen as both that and a human being. The glasses were an indirect metaphor for the blending of his administrative authority and his humanity. To combat this challenge, he strives to involve himself in the campus community as much as possible; whether by standing outside the B building gates every morning with the rest of the administrators, by saying hello to students in passing during lunch, or by going to see our student athletes in action. Through this conversation, it is clear that Mr. Thornton truly cares about building a supportive, connected, and inclusive environment here on campus.
As a senior this year, I can attest to the fact that the heavy workload and grueling college application process, combined with the closing of this chapter in our lives, has characterized our year thus far. After all, for the vast majority of us, picking a college is the first truly life-altering decision we’ve had to make. Perhaps what stood out most was Mr. Thornton’s anecdote about his own high school experience, and his advice to stay committed to oneself– “to be your own person.” He spoke about creating balance and embracing where we are in our lives right now. I am grateful for this change in perspective; it’s so easy to get caught up in the craziness of life right now and increasingly challenging to take a step back and enjoy the present. With this advice in mind, I am determined to make the rest of this year as enjoyable and balanced as possible.
The press conference ended with enthusiastic applause as Mr. Thornton left the room. The atmosphere felt lighthearted– you could sense the overwhelming sense of support his answers left our staff. If you see Mr. Thornton, or any of the administrators for that matter, around campus, make sure to thank them for their consistency and encouragement. I’ve learned through speaking with them that their support for us as students and people extends beyond what we may realize.