Since its start, Dayton Youth Radio has featured the voices of over 200 Miami Valley teenagers from nine area high schools. Starting this week, we’re going to share some of the Best Of Dayton Youth Radio so far, and we’ll be back with new stories in the spring.
In 2018, then-Centerville High School student Billy Pittl talked about the fictional and real-life characters that can help us on our journey through life.
My name is William Richard Pittl III; call me Billy for short. I am the third of two other people, and we all look exactly alike. I’m 18 years old, and a senior at Centerville High School. I love to sing and do voice impressions of famous people or cartoon characters.
I don’t remember much about my parent’s divorce, and to be honest I try not to. My dad told me my mother left to go home to Texas. I guess it always stuck with me because of how blunt and to the point my dad was. It was also where the pain started. To ease some of that pain I like to build Lego sets.
I also remember sitting behind the couch, talking to a picture of my mom. I was a lonely kid who lacked self-confidence. I watched movies, especially Star Wars to escape the sadness in my life.
The first Star Wars film I remember seeing was Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. I was with my father, and I was only 5 years old. We went to our local Walmart and brought the two-disc special edition DVD. We watched it together while eating some very stale Taco Bell.
One of the things I liked about Star Wars was that the hero always needs that master or sage to help and to give them advice on their journey. For me, that person was my counselor Ms. Grisso from Stingley Elementary. She gave me the advice I needed. She told me things like my mom made her choice, and now I have one. I can either let my parents' divorce drag me down and not unlock my potential for greatness, or put my foot down and break that driving force that breaks the chain of my pain and to move on with my life.
It wasn’t until the summer of 2008, the last time I saw my mother, that what Ms. Grisso said would lead to my Death Star battle, my Jedi trial, which is when Luke gets inside his X-swing and flies with the other rebels to launch a final attack on the Death Star.
My mom came to visit me from Texas during that summer. It was a great time seeing her and making up for some of that lost time. The second to last day before she left to go back to Texas, I forgot to brush my teeth. Like a typical 8 year old, every time my mom told me to brush my teeth I said I’ll do it later. Finally, she took matters into her own hands and dragged me to the bathroom and brushed my teeth herself. I broke down and began to cry. I wished she and dad hadn’t split, and I didn’t want her to go back to Texas.
She took me over to the couch, and I let all my feelings out. I looked up and I saw my mom crying. I’d never seen her cry and she finally understands all the pain she caused me. I felt like I had been reborn anew. Like Luke in Star Wars when he takes the killing shot into the Death Star reactor hole. He realizes he is no longer a simple farm boy but now a hero of the rebellion and a Jedi in training.
Now I make my mission to make people laugh every day. If I can bring a little light into some person’s day, then I know it’s worth it.
Billy Pittl is a graduate of Centerville High School who now attends the UD-Sinclair Academy and is majoring in mass communication. Special Thanks to Tricia Rapoch, teacher for the Communication Arts Program at Centerville High School. Learn more at the school's website: http://www.centerville.k12.oh.us/CHS Dayton Youth Radio is supported by the Virginia W. Kettering Foundation, the Vectren Foundation and the Ohio Arts Council.
This story was created at the Eichelberger Center for Community Voices at WYSO.