High School: A Final Reflection

Katie Padden, Opinions Editor

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Not one of us has made it through this high school experience alone. We have had the assistance and love of scores and scores of mentors and peers. We have pushed ourselves through slumps, studied through the night, and fallen asleep after sports practices and rehearsals alike, but none of that has been achieved in solitude.

It is certain that our distance from this high school experience will not be small in any way, even (and especially) for those who remain here. Our lives and our interests, our loves and hopes will expand beyond what we can imagine. We will grow older, but we will only become wiser if we seek challenges with the support of the people who have built us up.

My years at Nipomo High have formed me in more ways than I know how to articulate. Your love and laughter, and our shared pains and victories have given me legs to stand on that are stronger than mine alone have been. We have traded and shared memories; we stayed up all through Grad Night, we danced awkwardly at prom, we signed yearbooks and traded phone numbers, and handed out senior photos. We have gotten smarter, stronger, more caring, and taller (Well, some of us anyways).

We don’t want our collective efforts, our identities, and our successions of successes and failures to fall to the wayside in the wake of challenges and new people that we will encounter in the coming years. We want, for a few precious moments, to suspend the incredible triumph of having surmounted the challenges that we have beaten back. And certainly, there were times when I felt like giving up, when binging episodes of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit seemed far more appealing than writing a report on some obscure poem or scientific concept.

There are so many people who are deserving of my gratitude, who have offered me invaluable guidance and advice when I needed it the most. I will not forget the kindness of doors held open, of the frequent check-ins, of the smiles and words I received from all of you in my times of need. The point, of course, is that having people like you to fall back on made my life easier–I can only hope I have done the same for some of you during this journey.

At last, we collectively stand upon this summit to look at the valley of possibility before us–at the ups and downs, at the beauty, at the paths worn into the ground and the impossibly blue dome of stars above, around, and below us. I know that sounds like a dreamscape; the possibilities for each of us are branching off in every direction. Some of them tangle, and I cannot pretend that we all, at some time, will not be stuck in snares of doubt and failure, fear and grief.

I can say with authentic pride and gratitude that we are a school of resilient people. And with the support of those we love–of those who have loved and cared for us, and taught us about the world–we can escape those pitfalls and rise above them, no matter where we go. I am beyond grateful to have shared this journey with you all. Be proud of who you have become. And it is now that I ask you to be prouder still of who you will be in the future.