Graduating Winters Mill High School senior Addison Lomax has a philosophy in life exemplified by a simple rule of thumb: Why not?
“I like to experience as many diverse experiences as possible in my life, because when looking back on it, I want to feel like I had a well-rounded experience,” she said. “I may not be able to do everything, but the things that I chose to do are things that I wanted to do.”
That’s a guiding principle that may have helped her deal with the unique situation the class of 2020 finds itself in, and not just at Winters Mill, but everywhere, due to the COVID-19 pandemic — graduating without graduation. It’s another experience, and one that they share.
“It’s unfortunate we had to end senior year this way, but, in some ways ...” she said, “The entire class of 2020; I mean, we’re going through this together.”
And Lomax has had quite a few other experiences during her high school career. She’s been involved in Carroll County Public Schools Student Government Association, serving as vice president her senior year, and was president of the National Honors Society.
As a junior, Lomax joined the Winters Mill mock trial team, a formative experience that cultivated her already burgeoning interest in law and led to both an internship with the Carroll County State’s Attorney’s Office and her serving as a page in the Maryland House of Representatives in February prior to the pandemic.
It was an intense schedule of activities for anyone, Winters Mill SGA adviser Greg Knill noted.
“There were times we would say to her, ‘Are you sure you are not taking on more than you want?’ But after a while I started to recognize it wasn’t about how much it was, it was about what she could get out of it,” he said. “She is always looking for a way to learn, always looking for a way to get a different perspective.”
For instance, there was the time when Lomax, who was elected class president as a freshman, failed to win re-election.
“From that, I actually was able to become involved with our student government, and that was probably the best decisions I made,” she said. "I got to get involved with all those kids and I ended up being our parliamentarian for two years."
And then there was her athletics. Lomax was going to play lacrosse in the spring, but that wasn’t going to cut it, according to her mother, Anita Lomax.
“We have this thing in our family where, you have to do something every season,” Anita said. “We said, you don’t have a fall sport and just to stay physically active, you need to run cross country.”
It was rough, as Lomax puts it, and she never made it to the varsity team. And yet by the time she was a senior, running had become her main sport; she had planned on running track if the spring season hadn’t been canceled due to COVID-19.
“I think what I loved the most about it is that I didn’t have to be good, but could still push myself and the team supported me,” Lomax said. She would work hard to get great grades, and take on leadership positions, “but this was something that no matter how hard I tried, I wasn’t the best. And I think that taught me that you have don’t have to be best at everything.”
And that was something that stood out about Lomax in school, Knill said of his time working with her. She wasn’t striving or unnaturally shaping herself to external expectations.
“I think the thing that makes her special is she is very authentic,” he said. “She is not putting on a show for you, that’s who she is.”
Authentic, and heartfelt. When asked what she would miss most about her time at Winters Mill, Lomax became emotional, pausing before talking about the people who mattered so much to her in the day-today.
“I will miss walking to my teachers’ classrooms and their caring and talking with me about anything,” she said. “Just being with my friends and doing things I love. And everyone supporting me in everything and being so nice.”
Perhaps naturally, Lomax’s advice for incoming Winters Mill freshmen is to take their time, and to peruse as many experiences as they can; to be open to change.
“You have time to figure things out,” she said. "Don’t put yourself on a path and think from freshman year you will have the rest of your life planned out."
And Lomax has had to follow her own advice there. A plan to travel Nevada with her friends immediately following graduation is on hold for the time being, as are plans to take flying lessons — Lomax’s father is an amateur pilot and she works as a part-time customer service representative at Carroll County Regional Airport.
“Right now we don’t know if flying schools will be open since you would be less than six feet apart,” Lomax said. “Social distancing isn’t something that can really happen much in the sky.”
What she does know is that she will be attending Gettysburg College in the fall to study history and political science, and eventually, to head to law school.
“I have considered pursuing aviation law and just having the background experience of flying would be beneficial to being able to represent companies, or being able to defend people in lawsuits,” she said. “Doing policy with the FAA.”
Her ideal law school would be Georgetown, but Lomax has had enough experiences by now to know that she’ll have to wait and see.
“You can plan for stuff years out, but when people say, ‘where do you see yourself in five years,’ I don’t think many people saw themselves in the middle of a pandemic,” she said. “It’s taught me that there are things that are out of your control, and it’s not necessarily the problem or the issue, it’s how you respond to it.”