Graduation. It happened. I am now officially a Staples High School alum. And IT FEELS SO WEIRD! Honestly, it still hasn’t hit me that I won’t be walking into Staples in August to be greeted by Mr. Dodig’s friendly wave and smiling face.
Being at Baccalaureate, the ceremony the night before graduation, made me realize (even more than I did before) how incredibly blessed I am to have gone to such a successful school. There are so many kids who, through their time at Staples, find the motivation and strength to either take advantage of the opportunities presented to them or make their own.
While of course it was stressful more than half of the time, being surrounded by so many hardworking peers and so much competition turned out to be a positive experience in the end. I am overjoyed to be able to say that I had the most amazing experience at Staples and I learned more than I ever thought I could (more about life than math or science, but still a lot).
Here are some of the most important lessons I learned at Staples about high school and life in general:
1) Find something that you’re passionate about, and give it your all. For me, I was lucky enough to come across two things that I loved: Inklings and the Teen Awareness Group, Inc. (TAG). And my motivation, controlling nature, and leadership (which some call bossiness but hey, it works) led me to attain leadership roles in both organizations my senior year. As a freshman, I never would have dreamed of being Editor-in-Chief of Inklings and Co-President of TAG; I always thought there would be someone more deserving and more devoted than I was. But after working so hard for so long in both groups, I realized that I had the power to be the most deserving and the most devoted.
2) Don’t worry too much about what other people think. In the beginning of freshman year, I was a little nervous to be taking journalism, especially after a few of my friends dropped the class when our other friend told us it was “not an easy A.” Some of my friends would also tease me and ask me why I would “ever want to take an extra English class” but I can’t even imagine where I would be if I had decided not to take Intro to Journalism. If something makes you happy, do it. If a friend doesn’t approve, maybe he or she isn’t right for you anyway. Or maybe your differing opinions are what makes your friendship interesting.
3) Form strong relationships with your teachers. (And to those of you who laughed at graduation when Landon alluded to the close relationship between teachers and students, yes, I strictly mean platonically). Some of my teachers became such a big part of my high school career that I know I will remain close with them for a long time (hopefully forever). High school would have been nowhere near as fulfilling if I hadn’t had such wonderful relationships with teachers like Ms. Fulco, Mr. Thomas, Ms. Gomez, Mr. Miller, Mrs. Marsick, and even Mr. Dodig and Mr. Farnen. It was even nice to get to know the other adults in the building like Nelson and Mr. DuBois and Horace and Chris Lemone and Ms. Cook because the more people I knew, the more Staples and Westport felt like home.
4) Don’t take anything for granted. Everyone tells you that it goes by so fast, in the blink of an eye. I didn’t believe it until I walked onto the stage at graduation and wondered HOW THE HECK I had already been there for four whole years. So cherish the safety and the familiarness and the opportunities that Staples provides you with because you may not realize how lucky you are until you’re not so lucky anymore.
5) Go for it. Really,even the summer after you graduate, very little of what you think is important in high school will be so completely irrelevant that you won’t even remember it. So tell that boy that you like him even if you don’t think he likes you back. If you don’t like your friends, change them. And work hard so that you can create as many opportunities for yourself as possible.
To the SHS Class of 2015, congratulations. It was an honor to have been your classmate. And to everyone still at Staples, please make the most of the time you have there. It goes by faster than you could ever imagine. You’re in a wonderful place and soon, you’ll be holding your diploma, wondering how it all happened so quickly.
Photo by my good friend Dave Matlow for Westport Now.