Leaving the Nest

We don’t stop going to school when we graduate.
– Carol Burnett

Well, today is it. Today is the day I walk across that stage, shake my principal’s hand, take my (fake) diploma (we pick the real ones up after the ceremony in the cafeteria), and leave forced education behind forever. Because, really, after this, nothing is forced upon us anymore. We have the choice to go to college or not, to get a job or not, to serve in the military or not. Some of us leave home, some don’t. Some can’t. None of these choices are necessarily bad ones, but they are ours to make.

But we never stop learning. We keep moving forward, whether it’s at a hundred miles an hour or ten. Or five. We keep moving forward and keep creating ourselves.

Four years ago, a new school was being built. Four years ago, I was homeschooled. Four years ago, the thought of going to a public high school was exciting and terrifying, just like the thought of leaving is now. I have spent the last four years at Lake Minneola High School. That’s approximately 24% of my life. And I spent 25% of those years in just one room.

Today I walked out of my choir room for probably the last time in my high school career. We had our 4th annual (and my final) Choir Olympics, a fun activity we use to distract ourselves from the terror of graduation ahead. I remember when the first seniors at LMHS graduated, and how we had this on their last day of school, and how emotional it was for us when the bell rang, and we realized that they were leaving.

Now I’m leaving.

We also sang one of our pieces from our last concert, which was one of the most enjoyable run-throughs of that song.

Here’s the front of the room, the part I’ve spent most of my time staring at. Whether it was to learn the solfege, watch a video of past concerts, or read upcoming due-dates, I rarely looked away from the front of this room.

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Here is the corner where all our uniforms are hung. Mine is there, somewhere. It’s been mine for a while. Next year it will be someone else’s.

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Here is the most important wall in the room to me. It shows our achievements, how our choirs have grown, how we have grown, and where we’ve gone over the years.

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Four years ago, I hesitantly signed up for Choir, but only for one semester, as I wasn’t sure I would like it. One week later, I begged my mom and guidance counselor to sign me up for the next semester, and the next, and the next. Now, one week ago, I finished my last choir concert. Theme: Disney.

Here’s all of the choir seniors after the concert.

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Three days ago, I had my last choir banquet. It was very scary, and emotional.

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Four years ago I entered high school knowing only three people. I leave high school knowing at least half of my senior class of 450+. Four years ago, I made my first friends in advisory and though I don’t see them as much as I used to, they will always have a unique spot in my heart. Four years ago, I had almost an entirely different group of friends than what I have now. That’s not a bad or good thing, it just means I’ve grown. We all have.

Here’s just a few of the many friends I’ve come to love and a few of the teachers I appreciate so much.

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Four years ago, I couldn’t even imagine graduating. I thought it would take a lot longer than it has. It has had its ups and downs. I would be lying if I said I wanted to go back and do it again, but I would be lying if I said that I regretted it. I don’t regret anything I’ve done these past four years. I am in the top 25 of my graduating class. That has never mattered to me. I went to school and earned good grades so that my parents wouldn’t regret sending me to high school. I didn’t do it to be the 19th to graduate, but I am, and I am very proud of myself.

I am leaving behind a place that has become such an important part of my life. But I am moving on to bigger and better things. I will be moving forward to create my own person, and stand out in the world.

I would not be the same person I am today if I had not gone to high school and whether that is a good thing or a bad one, I guess I will never know. But I have had fun, and I have met so many wonderful people, and many not-so-wonderful people.

The ceremony starts in about 6 hours. I have 6 hours to rest and mentally prepare myself for a 4 hour long ceremony. 6 hours to prepare to say goodbye, and 6 hours to be a high school student.

By midnight tonight, I will be a high school graduate, on my way to being a college freshman, like so many people I know. By midnight tonight, my time at Lake Minneola, my time as a Hawk on the hill, will be over. But I will never forget what I’ve done, who I’ve met, or how I got where I am today.

I know that I will likely not see most of these people, these friends that I’ve made, ever again, even at class reunion. Maybe Facebook will be the only way I know that they are happy. Which I hope they, and you are. I hope that everyone in the class of 2015, whether you go to my school or not, college or high school, is proud of themselves, and can move onward towards their own paths in the world.

I received a senior gift at another banquet just last night, and on that gift was a quote. The quote says “Life is about creating yourself.”

And I think that is very true.

So, I hope we can all go forward and create ourselves, and love ourselves and others. This may be the end of a chapter, but each of our books are just beginning.

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