The truest cliche ever spoken

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

I'll admit it -- I cried at my high school graduation. I remember starting my freshman year and telling my parents how much I couldn't wait for it to be over with so I could go out there in the real world.

They told me to cherish the upcoming four years, because they were going to be gone before I knew it. I, of course, thought they were giving me the cliched response millions of parents have told their own children, but they couldn't have been more right. And pretty soon, I was taking my final walk down the gymnasium, wanting to hop into a time machine and savor it all over again.

When you go to a smaller high school like I did, you get close to everyone, even if you aren't really friends with them. The 33 of us knew pretty much everything there was to know about one another. There were certain social groups, but we always offered a helping hand and our mutual hatred for neighboring schools really helped us bond.

We formed lasting relationships with our teachers and coaches (mostly because our teachers were the coaches), and you could honestly go to them for anything: from personal advice, to tater-tot casserole (thanks, Mrs. Skinner!) and even stories about monkeys (yes, you, Mrs. DeJournette!).

Out of class, we talked to them the same way we would our friends, because they were our friends. As much as we'd hate to admit it, they did have an impact on our lives. And although I had four years to thank them, it's something I never thought about doing. High school couldn't possibly end, could it? The sad thing is that it does. We grow up. Things change. People change. And what I've learned is that life after high school is a hectic, sometimes rotten, always beautiful, penniless, tear-filled mess that you have to deal your way through. We had it so easy back then. Going to school was like spending eight hours a day with your family.

Don't get me wrong, college is great. You meet new people, learn about life and money, and there's never a shortage of parties. But the days of walking into a classroom and knowing every face are gone. Sometimes I miss that. It was a comfortable feeling.

For graduates seeking advice, I have none to give. I'm still learning and dealing with life's obstacles myself. All I can say is that I hope you enjoyed your high school years, because there's nothing like them. Growing up really is a hard thing to do, but if you make the best of it and learn from your errors, then you'll have nothing to regret.

So to the class of 2006, I'd like to congratulate you on your accomplishments and failures, because they've made you the high school graduate you are today. You're about to step into the next phase of life, and I wish you the best of luck.

And to the senior class of Notre Dame, I'm sorry you had to endure the loss of your friend, Tyler Glaus. Graduation may have not been part of his life, but he went through high school with friends and teachers who cared about him. At least we know his last four years on this earth were, in fact, the greatest years a person could ask for.

Sam DeReign is a student at Southeast Missouri State University. Contact him at sdereign@semissourian.com.

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