Friday, June 13, 2008
On leaving CCHS – some reflections and advice
After four long years at CCHS, it was strange to realize that I will never again walk the halls as a student. While there is comfort in knowing that I can talk back to a teacher without getting a detention, there is a loss of comfort in feeling that I no longer belong at the school, or anywhere. In ten years, when I look back at my life, almost everything will be “when I was in high school…” or “when I was in college…” But this summer is like a black hole, where we graduating seniors don’t really fit into any group except our very own. All of us get summer jobs and make trips to IKEA for dorm supplies, marking down the days until we become freshmen again – something we both look forward to and dread.
But for now, I am exhausted. I have been thrown out of my typical schedule of all work and no play, and fallen into a senior week schedule of all play and no sleep. I have to warn the underclassmen: graduation rehearsal is painfully and uncomfortably boring and anti-climactic. The rest of the week the school makes up for it by sending you to Six Flags and senior prom. Prom was picturesque, but the most fun all week was at All Night Live, which runs from 9:30 p.m. until 5 a.m. – an incredible party that I am still recovering from. Senior Week culminates with graduation, which can be ruined by a bad decision during the other activities. Don’t mess it up for yourself, because you want to walk at graduation.
You know how on every birthday you wake up and expect to feel another year older? You usually don’t, because the process takes an entire year of experience and growing. When Principal Badalament dismissed the Class of 2008, I suddenly felt physically older, and it was better than my birthday because I had earned it. Being 18, although it is spectacular, is something you just get from surviving 365 more days. Being a high school graduate is something you’ve worked for over four years; it’s not free, and it’s easily taken away. It’s bestowed upon you in that split second when you throw your mortarboard up, and there are too many kids who never reach that split second. To be completely cliché: stay in school. But not just stay in school – do school the right way.
Many people say, “I am in no position to give advice. I can only reflect.” Well, during my reflection, I realized some good advice, and I think I am qualified to give a few tips to the classes of 2009, 2010, 2011 and beyond.
Become best friends with a teacher. This is very different from sucking up to a teacher. You might even be failing that class or you think the teacher is doing a bad job. Maybe it’s a math teacher, and you realized you both love Scrubs. It could be a club advisor you visit during the school day. Whoever it is, find the teacher who is more of a friend than a professor; the one you want to hang out with during lunch and talk about your day. This will make school more enjoyable, but it also ensures that there is someone on your side. If another teacher pins you for something or you feel you are being treated unfairly, there will be a faculty member who can vouch for your character and tell you about your rights as a student.
Get out of Concord-Carlisle, please. Even if you can only afford to go into Boston or attend a short summer camp, it’s so important to reach out and meet other people. Concord-Carlisle is not quite as sheltered as people will have you believe. It only seems that way because it takes us so long to see the world. If you wait until college to meet someone from another part of the country or another nation, you risk going into the “real” world still thinking that everyone in Texas is a Republican and that there is no Internet in the Middle East. You don’t have to be rich. Anyone with Facebook can make friends in Canada, Australia and Zimbabwe, so do it! (Extra points: learn the real meaning of the word “ghetto” before using it in a sentence.)
Force yourself to be independent. If you get a grade you didn’t deserve, go to the teacher alone before your parents send ten e-mails. You will gain respect and learn if you try and problem-solve yourself. When you apply to college, make sure you know everything about your applications. It’s embarrassing when your mother knows your deadlines, but you don’t even know what colleges you are applying to. An admissions officer at Middlebury College once pointed out that if a parent comes over to the desk to sign the student up for an interview, it’s a good sign that the interview won’t go well.
Learn to do your own laundry. If you get hungry before your chef – I mean, parent – comes home, learn how to start dinner or make it yourself. I promise you will feel better about yourself, and as you grow up, from freshman through senior year, the additional responsibilities and choices won’t overwhelm you.
Those are the three more untraditional points that I hope make the CCHS experience as good for you as it was for me. I can’t say I don’t have some regrets – it took me three and a half years too long to understand that being myself really is the most important thing. But as I leave to become a freshman again at the University of Vermont in the fall, I’ll look back at CCHS and senior week with a fondness that is something of a cliché.
Congratulations to the graduating class of 2008, and good luck to those to come. Live life, stay safe, have fun! ∆
© 2008 The Carlisle Mosquito