In 2002, being the cool fifth-graders was the dream. That was the year we graduated kindergarten. Entering middle school, the eighth-graders were the cool ones — the ones who knew the ropes and the ones who had all the answers. Was it just yesterday that we entered as freshmen and pictured ourselves wearing our caps and gowns, walking across the stage to receive our diplomas?
Ready or not, here we all are at the finish line. This is what we have been thinking about for four years, and intensely planning for (at least) the last semester. It is crazy for me to think that high school is over and that I will never walk the halls of Burlingame High School as a student again.
Though it seemed as if we were stuck for four years in a stagnant rut of writing essays, taking tests, preparing for standardized tests and agonizing over AP exams, I find that we all have come a long way, slowly, but surely, during our time here.
Had someone told me back in my freshman year that these four years would just fly by, the idea would have seemed ludicrous. Yet, here I am, honestly with no clue where all the time went.
“Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute.” That was Albert Einstein on the theory of relativity.
As I think back to my elementary school days, I remember thinking that when I graduated from high school I would be an adult and never make mistakes. I suppose that if I could tell 8-year-old me that even adults make mistakes, it would come as a huge shock to her.
High school, in many ways, has been a sort of “package deal” for most of us. We all have definitely made mistakes, learned from them, formed new friendships, experimented (in more ways than one) and grown as individuals.
All our highs and our lows have taken place within the confines of this safe and familiar environment. The buffers that our school and surroundings have provided us have been critical to our continued learning in an unfettered fashion.
What distinguishes our learning and growth from this point on is that the safety and structure we are used to and which we have taken for granted will no longer be there with us. We move on to new adventures, new challenges and newer avenues of learning, all of which are essentially uncharted territories for each one of us.
As I think of my own high school’s graduating class, I see only enthusiasm, confidence and a little brashness that is characteristic of every teenager. But we are not willing to acknowledge, not yet, that change is terrifying, hard and sometimes difficult to live with. However, as the Greek philosopher Heraclitis aptly put it, change is the only constant.
So wherever we all are headed, be it college, work, the Marines, etc., we step out of our comfort zones and face the real world, confident in the education that our teachers and parents have given us.
To quote Dr. Seuss, “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.”
So, what do you say class of 2014? Let’s go graduate.
Janani Kumar is a recent graduate at Burlingame High School. Student News appears in the weekend edition. You can email Student News at firstname.lastname@example.org.