I’m so proud of you, OCHS ’14!
I wish I could be there for your graduation. But since I can’t, I’m holding a small ceremony right here, right now, on this blog, in your honor.
You spent the last four years making sacrifices. You forfeited sunny afternoons to homework. You stayed up all night to earn a C+ on a paper, knowing full well that another school would have given you an A just for showing up. You tucked in your shirt, or else incurred your teachers’ bottomless and inhuman wrath.
The school changed around you. Teachers came and left. Principals, too. Clubs appeared; soccer teams were born; the halls went from hospital-white to blinding yellow-and-blue. You watched older students vanish, one year at a time, and younger students arrive in hordes, until suddenly the school was scarcely the same at all. Through these last four years, only one thing at OCHS really remained constant:
From the start, you guys had a reputation as a special class. Fun and boisterous. Cohesive and engaged. I’ll always be grateful for the chance to teach you. It wasn’t easy for you—nobody ever called OCHS “low-pressure” or “stress-free.” But even as everything shifted year after year, you guys remained by each other’s side, fighting the same battles, riding the same waves, changing together, changing each other.
I hope—no, I know—that you’ll always share an instinctive bond, forged under struggle, like old teammates or war buddies.
As you make big decisions in life—a career, a city, a spouse—you’ll find yourself exposed to unanticipated forces. You’ll face the grindstone of work, the pressures of family, the irregular tides of emotion and chance, and that most powerful of all the agents of change:
The people in your life will continue to shape you, just as you shaped each other, just as you shaped me, just as I perhaps, in some small way, helped to shape you (if only to instill a fearful awe of complex numbers).
As you make your paths through life, think hard about the people you’ll encounter. Think about the sides of you that they’ll bring out. And whether you stay in touch with each other or cut all ties, I hope you’ll never forget how you changed each other for the better.
Congratulations again. Stay in touch! (And now that you’re no longer high school students, I’ll finally accept all those pending friend requests on Facebook.)