I am writing this at the end of the first day of my last week of high school, and the eve of my last official day of high school classes, after four long years at Academy Park High School and thirteen total years as a student in the Southeast Delco School District. While I can’t say it flew by for me, I can say that it left me a more complete individual for the better. I won’t divulge all of my thoughts on this, those of you who will watch my Valedictory Address at graduation will get the brunt of that, but I will expound upon this notion a little bit, since it has been really on my mind lately.

With all the buzz, commotion, and chaos associated with this time of year (banquets, ceremonies, graduation parties), I rarely had the time to stop and reflect, not really being fazed by the fact that in a week’s time, the door will close on this part of my life forever. The football games, late weekday nights, childish shenanigans (of which I am guilty of many), will all become memories, turning ever so distant with the inevitable passage of time.

I don’t say this enough (those that are close to me know that this is DEFINITELY true, sometimes even stating the contrary), but I will actually miss high school. In the early hours of the morning working on a paper/project that is due that day, alliances were made. In the stressors of multiple extracurricular activities & commitments, friendships were forged. In late-night impromptu therapy sessions, bonds were strengthened, and made strong enough to last a lifetime. These last four years have been life-changing, more so than I could have possibly fathomed as an incoming freshman.

In the last four years, my experiences have been varied and plenty, from the sorrow felt at the loss of a close friend, to the sheer joy that school pride can impart on a community, even at its lowest points. It doesn’t stop there, I have had the opportunity to have met ambitious, like-minded individuals from across the globe, as well as statesmen and other dignitaries, many of which I am proud to call my friends. I have been exposed to new viewpoints and ideals, some so compelling that they even shifted my opinions on subjects. I have also discovered a renewed sense of self, one that I didn’t even know I was longing for.

I don’t have any regrets about how I approached high school, as every slip-up, mistake, or mishap I ever caused, the way I see it, lead me to this moment right now. Where I am content, and feeling pretty darn good about how my life is going right now.

So, to my classmates reading this, when you see me in a more chipper mood than usual this week, laughing a little harder at a bad joke in class, or engaging in shenanigans one last time, just know that I am living life to the fullest right now, and I’m just taking it all in while it lasts. I recommend you do the same.