A night to remember

Life is all about moments. Good moments, bad moments, great moments–there is all kinds. Sometimes those moments aren’t always picture perfect though, they are not always moments we want to remember. While I have had my fair share of those times I wish I didn’t have to remember, last Thursday, I experienced a night I know I will never forget.

It was the night Silver Shield awards were being presented, a night of excellence, one might say. For those of you who are not aware what Silver Shield is, it is an award given to a student by a teacher because of the student’s excellence in a certain area over the past year, unbeknownst to the student whom they have received the award from until it is presented to them that evening. The ladies could be seen in pretty dresses and elegant heels, the young men in dress shirts and ties. Everyone was looking their best, and each recipient was anxious to find out who had chosen to honor them that night.

Waiting for my name to be called to walk to the middle of the stage, I silently wondered to myself whom mine could be from. I had a couple of vague ideas, but I wasn’t too certain of anyone. As soon as I began to hear the short synopsis of why I was chosen, though, it all clicked into place. I am extremely honored and happy to announce that this year I was Mr. Matthew Schott’s Silver Shield recipient.

Before I go into too much detail, let me just say that first off, being given a respectable award such as this from such an admirable teacher is outstanding to myself. But with the words in which it was presented to me and the response I received from those words, the whole thing is still almost unfathomable to me.

As you all know by now (or at least, I am assuming you have heard), about two months ago I had brain surgery to remove a benign cyst in my pineal gland. For over six months I had been struggling with symptoms prior to surgery as well as experiencing significant difficulty in finding a doctor who would treat me. My daily life had become really just a fight to live my life normally and remain as fully functioning as I could while trying to figure out just precisely what was wrong with me. Not exactly your average senior year.

Standing in the center of the stage in the auditorium looking out at the audience, I listened as I heard my struggle for the past year being told to the hundreds of parents and students that sat staring back at me. I was smiling, standing up straight and tall, eyes forward, but inside my heart was aching with an indescribably intense mixture of all the joy, pain, and struggle that all the moments prior to this one had led me to. I knew most of the school was aware of my situation, but for it to be presented in such a way that it was, honoring me for my accomplishments throughout it, nearly took my breath away. I was just so thankful to be standing there, to be surrounded by people that cherish me and have supported me the entire time, just being there was enough for me. As we were walking away to exit off the stage, though, I heard the crowd’s polite clapping turn into more of a slight roar and stared in disbelief as the teachers around us began rising to their feet. Turning around, I watched as the whole auditorium stood up and cheered…for me.

I was astounded. Elated. Proud. Sad. Happy. Confused. So many emotions were running through me, I didn’t even know what to think or what to say, even less on how to act. I fought the tears threatening to spill over and hoped that when I looked back at them, they could all see the gratitude I was trying to convey. It was a beautiful moment, and definitely one that will be engrained in my mind in permanent residence.

As I said earlier, life is all about moments. We are faced with so many different situations in our time on Earth for many reasons we won’t understand, but each of them are important in their attribution in shaping us as a person. Last Thursday, I experienced one that will stick with me forever. To all of those who supported me, stood by me, and especially to Mr. Schott: thank you. You all made months worth of hardship have an ever-bright silver lining. Thanks to you guys, it will always shine on.