Look at yourself. Now look at senior Michael Johnston. Now back to you. One of those two people can speak Spanish fluently, recently won the Lake Placid Marathon, and is the only senior boy who still uses a lunchbox (from durable LL Bean). That person is Johnston.
Johnston, who is commonly known as MJ, was a tri-season track captain this year. He loves the outdoors, BC Calculus, and running ad infinitum. Senior Meredith Ott said that “He is a well-rounded individual.” Next year he’s heading off to Northwestern University, where even the brisk Chicago wind is probably not going to stop him from working out sans shirt. “One thing about him is that he is determined,” senior Rebecca Liu said. I sat down and talked to Johnston about running, high school, and the stigma surrounding initials as iconic as MJ.
N: What’s your gig?
MJ: I really like the outdoors. Running, skiing, hiking. I’m a Boy Scout. I’ve spent over 100 nights of my life in a tent. Over the summer, all I do is ride my bike places.
N: Because you don’t have your license?
MJ: I have my license! I bike to save money.
Senior Will de Rocco: MJ’s two main characteristics would be focus and drive and . . . stinginess. Splitting the bill with him is more difficult than drawing and quartering the Hulk.
N: Right. What else are you doing this summer?
MJ: I’m going to be a sailing instructor at Roton Point , teaching elementary schoolers how to sail.
N: What’s special about you? Or unique?
MJ: I’m from here but my mom’s from Argentina, so we go there [often]. It’s given me a different perspective on life. We usually go out to farmland. There’s no electricity. When it’s dark, you just go to bed. It’s a different lifestyle.
N: Why do you like running so much?
MJ: I like being alone and just having time to think. Running is such a pure sport—it’s like, this is how athletic you are. There is no skill, it’s just running. The best runner wins. You don’t have to rely on a team; it’s not about finesse. Just raw running.
N: Are you going to run in college?
MJ: I want to do ultra-marathons. They’re fifty or a hundred miles each.
N: How long does that take? How long are you actually running for when you do something like that?
MJ: I don’t actually know… I should probably find that out. I did the Lake Placid Marathon last weekend (6/09) in 2 hours, 35 minutes, and 48 seconds. [That's 26.3 miles.]
N: Nice. Why Northwestern?
MJ: My brother’s there. That’s why I applied. They have good academics . . . a good location. I want to major in business. I’m looking forward to being near Chicago and being in the triathlon club.
N: Would you ever run to Northwestern?
MJ: I don’t know. Maybe. I would take a couple of breaks.
N: What’s your favorite song to run to?
MJ: I don’t like to listen to music. Just my thoughts.
N: Describe yourself in one word.
Will de Rocco [piping in again]: He’s got a drive unlike anyone you could possibly see. Watching him flip the pages of a test is like watching an anteater devour an entire anthill in ten minutes.
N [to MJ]: Describe high school in one word.
MJ: Time-management. Sometimes I have a lot going on. Right now, it’s very stressful. Senior year, it’s not what people tell you.
N: Do you think you’ll have a legacy here at DHS?
MJ: I think people on the running team will remember me.
N: Now let’s talk about the initials. MJ. Which MJ do you like better- Michael Jordan or Michael Jackson?
MJ: Michael Jordan. Actually, Michael Johnston is a wonderful guy.