Graduation from the stands

On Friday, June 21, I piled into the stands of Cardinal Stadium along with the friends and family of more than 600 Greenwich High School students to see the class of 2013 say goodbye to GHS one last time.

The bleachers surrounding the field were packed with students who had come to wish their departing friends good luck, younger siblings imagining themselves one day walking across the stage to graduate, and parents already sniffling at the prospect of their children leaving the nest. As my mother and I made our way to the section of the stadium reserved for families of Folsom students, every passing parent would stop to congratulate my mother on my sister’s graduation and tell me knowingly, “You’re next!”

Just about everyone seems to agree that the first three years of high school are all building up to senior year. To the humble freshman entering the halls of GHS for the first time, the privileges of senior year seem unattainably extravagant. The respect and independence that accompanies the last year of high school are universally revered.

Of course, parents and teachers warn about the rigorous coursework and challenge of applying to college as well. But I don’t think anything can prepare you for the sudden realization that senior year is happening, whether you’re ready or not.

I can see myself in a cap and gown, but the path to graduation is rocky with responsibilities that I have never been faced with before.

I have parents, teachers, guidance counselors, and friends to help guide me along for the next year. But there’s still something missing, some transformation that I have to make on my own to really become the “independent adult” everyone claims that I’ll be.

Fortunately, just because I have to be the one to prepare myself for senior year doesn’t mean I have to do it alone. There is a whole class of students in the same position I’m in who are — at least a little bit — just as terrified and excited about the future as I am. I am confident that we can all get to graduation together in one piece, and enjoy our last months of school together on the way.

The class of 2013 walked into Cardinal Stadium as high school students on Friday, but they left as college students, ready for a new adventure.

At the same time, I became a senior suddenly on the verge of a whole new life.

As a junior, well a senior now, at graduation, I wasn’t just witnessing the departure of the class above me. I was glimpsing my own future.

Watching graduation from the stands is easy. It’s comfortable. But now it’s time for me to leave my comfort zone, because a year from now I’ll be the one receiving my diploma. And there’s no going back to the stands after that.

Congratulations class of 2013. And class of 2014, let’s have a great summer, because as soon as we get back to school in the fall, I know that we’ll be busy making our final year of high school one to remember.

 

Danielle Connolly is now a senior at Greenwich High School.

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