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“I present to you the graduating class of 2018.” I could not believe I was a high school graduate. It did not feel real until I heard those words come out of my principal’s mouth. I reflected on my high school experience. I remembered where I began and where I ended. I thought about how I felt. I took note of my successes and failures. I realized that there is a lot I wish I would have done and understood at the start of my high school career, and I can sum up most of it in four pieces of advice.
Appreciate the good moments.
As a high schooler, it is easy to get caught up in the stress of homework, tests, and projects. You check your grades 15 times per day, and stress about losing half of a percentage point. You look at your calendar and feel anxious about all the deadlines you have coming up. It can all be very overwhelming, but there will be good moments. With all the stress, it can be hard to notice the good moments. These are not always big and extravagant. In fact, it is the little things that you will remember most. For some people, it may be sitting in the front row of their favorite class every day. For others it may be seeing their favorite teacher. For a few, it may be going to their favorite club after school. For many it may be sitting at lunch with their best friend. For you it may be something else, something exciting and new. Whatever it may be, make sure you love and appreciate each and every good moment.
There is something for everyone, even if you don’t believe it.
“Get involved! There is something for everyone.” It’s a phrase that I heard constantly throughout my high school career. If you are anything like how I was my first couple years of high school, hearing that makes you role your eyes and bring out your teenage attitude. I know what you are thinking. “My school has nothing to offer me.” I thought the same thing, but if you think your school has nothing for you, you are wrong. They may not have something for you right now, but something will come. If your experience is anything like mine, you may not find where you fit in until your senior year. If you keep your eyes open and wait, something will come. However, waiting isn’t the only answer. Don’t forget the power you have as a part of the student body at your school. If there is something you want that your school doesn’t have, make it. Ask a teacher or your principal how to get started. Gather a group of students to join you. You will leave a positive impact on your school community and will create a place where you and many other students feel like you belong.
No matter how much you hate high school now, you will miss it when it's over.
Homework, unreasonable teachers, and grades are enough to make any high schooler start counting the days until they never have to walk though the high school doors again. That day will come, but it will not be what you thought it would be. You’ll say goodbye to your favorite teacher and walk through the halls with tears streaming down your cheeks. You’ll listen to your peers speak at graduation and realize you never understood how inspiring some of your classmates are. You will hear your principal say one of his corny sayings one final time, and your eyes will fill with tears. You will walk out of the building and realize you were so busy praying it would be over, you didn’t appreciate it while it was going on. You miss it, and even if you didn’t love it all, you want parts of it back. Always remember to love the good, embrace the bad, appreciate the weird, and accept the annoying because when it comes to an end, you’ll want some pieces back.
Be kind always.
High school is a hard time for many people. Every one has some sort of struggle either inside or outside of school, and many keep their struggles to themselves. You never know what someone is going through, so be kind always. At the end of the day, all high schoolers are humans just like you. Smile at a stranger in the hallway. Help someone pick up their fallen books. Talk to the student who’s having a bad day. Find a way to be kind each and every day, and when you walk across that stage wearing your cap and gown, take that kindness into the world. Sprinkle it all around.