While it is surreal that today is my graduation day, what is even more astonishing to me is that next year you will be a freshman at Staples. In a couple of months, you’ll put on an outfit that you agonized over (not yet realizing the daunting fact that there will be 720 more outfits to plan before you receive your own diploma), Mom, teary-eyed, will drop you off at the side door and you’ll proudly strut in, tote bag by your side, until you finally realize that it is entirely impractical to bear the weight of all your books on one shoulder and concede one fashion statement for the pragmatism of a Jansport backpack.
There will be classes you love, classes you hate and classes you love to hate. Language Arts will become English, your core subjects won’t be conveniently located in the same hallway and midterms will actually mean something. As the work gets harder the ratio of milk to coffee in your Starbucks beverage of choice will decline and you’ll learn that going to sleep at 10:00 p.m. is a gift from heaven above, not a punishment.
Junior year, when you start to drive (God help us all), you will learn that in order to get to school on time you’ll have to leave the house at exactly 6:57 a.m. or you’ll be sitting in traffic on North Avenue for the better part of your morning. You’ll learn that if you want to get an iced coffee before class, you’ll have to leave at 6:25 to make it to Dunkin Donuts and back on time, and shortly after, you’ll learn that no cup of Joe is worth those sacrificed 32 minutes you could have spent under the covers.
There will be boys you like and boys who like you and, for the first time in your life, boys who actually look the same age as you. There will be a Staples Girls Class of 2018 Facebook group riddled with incessant polls and passive aggressive comments that make you question the sanity of those around you. There will be promposals and photo groups and after party stress. There will be senior girls blowing whistles in your face, showering you with silly spray and dragging feather boas across the off-beige tiled floors.
You’ll meet creative, engaging, and insanely intelligent people. People who will inspire you and impress you inside and outside of the classroom. But, people will also hurt you. You can’t put a geofence around the atmosphere of animosity and competitiveness that pervades day to day life here. And it kills me that I’ll be practically on the Canadian border instead of five minutes away when I need to explain to you that these people who will go out of their way to hurt you mean nothing. To remind you that for every person who makes you dread going to school every day, there are two who are made happier by your presence. To encourage you to fall in love with the people you meet, because when you’re having your first nervous breakdown over your impending Honors Biology final, or over the Season 29 finale of Survivor, I won’t be there, but they will be.
There is so much you’ll have to figure out for yourself, but there is one piece of advice I wish I could go back and tell myself before my first day at Staples. I don’t know what Granny’s last words to you were, but the last thing she said to me was, “Always try to have as much fun as possible in life. That is what is most important.” Since she left us in March, I have been doing my best to honor her message. Granted, I was in a pretty good position to embark on this goal to enjoy life more as a second semester senior. However, as you start your high school career, I hope you take these words to heart. Work hard, study hard, learn hard: but never forget that these four years shouldn’t just be a purgatory before you start your adult life. Your time here shouldn’t just be something you’re powering through to get to the finish line, although at times, it will feel that way.
Make your mark, so that when it’s your graduation day you can honestly say that you are leaving Staples a better place than you found it in August of 2014. Make Granny, dad, mom, and me proud. Make it count.