A letter to my classmates

May 6, 2016

I remember my very first day of high school. I remember how big the windows seemed when I walked up the staircases, I remember how many times I slipped up said staircases, and I remember the pure fear I felt trying to find a lunch table for the first time.

It literally seemed like a scene out of a movie: there I stood, with my lunch box and my best friend, frozen, as everyone seemed to rush around us. Then the camera panned out and we were two little dots among thousands of kids in a lunch room.

I’m fully aware the situation probably didn’t play out exactly that way, but I know that’s what it felt like, and how a lot of high school felt — surreal. As I’m sure you’ve been told time after time, high school will fly by. And when you’re as busy I have been the past four years, they go by even quicker.

All though each day seemed to drag on and on, I made myself make it through the week. “If I can just make it to Friday, I will be okay.” And then Friday came, I had an eventful weekend, and then all of a sudden it was Monday again. And I just needed to make it to Friday. But when day turns to week turns to month turns to quarter, before you know it, you’ve made it through another year. Congratulations! That’s quite the accomplishment.

I know that, as the year winds down, we are all just counting down to Fridays and then to the end of the year. It is so, so close, and we are looking forward to that moment when we are free for the summer (or forever). But these last couple weeks are some of the most fun, exciting, and defining of the year. With prom, spirit weeks, the pep assembly, AP tests, finals, and goodbyes, these aren’t weeks where you need to “make it to Friday.” Whether you’re a senior or an underclassman, this time of year is what will be freshest in your mind over the summer and how you’ll remember the year you had just completed. Take in each moment, even the frustrating ones, because they make you who you are and your year what it was.

In marching band, we have a popular phrase we say at the end of each practice, before our final run-through of the day. “Finish strong.” It is to remind us to use everything we had learned up to that point and to apply it. To put in every ounce of effort we have left, because it’s the last time we will do this until tomorrow. To enjoy what we are doing, because we might as well — we have to be here.

The end of the school year is very similar. We might not be preparing for a performance or a competition, but we are preparing for so much more: summer, graduation, college, our futures, getting married, having kids, retirement! Everything we do can help define who we will be and who we want to be as we continue to grow and learn. The skills we create for ourselves in high school are what we will use in college and beyond, and no matter what grade you’re in, you’ve already begun creating your future.

Take this time to enjoy the experience of being a teenager, and to thank those who have helped you make it this far. Thank your friends for sticking with you and your teachers for believing in you. Thank yourself for doing the best you can, and motivate yourself to continue that through this last week and beyond. You can do it! You’ve done so much already, and you have so much to look forward to.

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