It is just expected that seniors will cry at their "lasts"- practice, day, graduation. And for many people as I walked the halls on my last day that was true. People were hugging and taking pictures and bawling.
I hugged my friends.
I took a thousand pictures.
I did not cry.
When I tell people I didn't cry on my last day, the first question is, why? Did you have a bad experience?
Nope! I didn't cry because I had a GREAT experience! I had awesome friends - we were close knit and whether it was prom or Taco Bell or New York we always had an amazing time! My friend's mom jokingly called us "The Core" and she was 100% right; they were my home base, my steady center throughout all of high school (we also really, really liked Ben and Jerry's Core Ice Cream). It did not matter how long we were together, even after a long day together at marching band we would all still happily jump in our cars, grab some Taco Bell, and sit and watch the stars and vent about life.
My teachers were great mentors - the growth I have achieved in these four years could never have happened without them. My IB World teacher taught me how to truly analyze and synthesize sources to figure out the truth, teaching me history is more than just a look at the interesting and influential events of the past, but a branch of study that teaches you skills and shares with you past experiences in order to make wiser decisions in regards to real world problems we have today. My APES teacher's information packed lectures - filled with funny, oh-o-quotable one liners such as his emphatic "Thank You Planet Earth!!!" (whenever we discussed ecological services) and unforgettable moments (when he out of the blue straight up purposely fell in the middle of lecture to illustrate what life would be like with too much gravity) engaged me in science and showed me the power of energy and creative thinking to turn a chore (lectures) into a true, engaging learning experience. This is not to mention the many teachers who supported me along my journey, never letting me settle or get complacent but always pushing me to be my best.
Hands down, my extracurriculars were some of my most unexpected and best memories of high school. I joined the Quiz Bowl academic trivia team and it is one of the most competitive and fun things I have ever done. It also took me to some awesome places like Atlanta, DC, and Dallas where we competed against teams from all over the nation – and the world. Once, we played a team from Singapore and though we got absolutely crushed, the time we had to talk to them before and after the match and learn about their culture and life was amazing. I also participated in a number of social justice activities – and whether I was dialoguing about racial issues or helping special needs kids practice new social skills or leading my school's GSA, I met the most amazing people and made some powerful memories. In a world where so often youth opinion is disregarded, it was empowering to hear my ideas and my peers ideas respected. We made change and memories together, and I wouldn't have it any other way. And marching band – My friends and I slaved hours of our lives practicing, training (yes we had to do a ton of conditioning) and re-running sets all for a few minute show. But what a rush it was to play, all together, and perform our hearts out. This year our hard work and dedication resulted in the mysterious "Order of X" show placing fourth at MCBA state finals. As we cheered and hugged each other and had our hearts swell with pride, I knew this was a moment I would carry with me forever.
I can't cry because I only feel joy. Joy over the memories I had in high school, joy over the memories I will make. Joy over the people I shared high school with, and joy over the people I will share college with.
So on graduation day I will dress in my robe and cap. I will hug my friends and my parents. But I will not cry. I will smile, for this is no end, only a new beginning.
Photo Credit: Hector R Santiago Flickr Creative Commons