It is funny: now that I have been at West for a while, I can still remember many of you as freshman. I have enjoyed watching you grow up from freshman year and turn into these super mature seniors. It is hard to know what to say to you as you are leaving West High School, but I will do my best.
First, I want to thank you for coming to West High School. I hope you are proud to be graduating from West High. This may sound cliché but, West High really is what you have made of it over the past four years. Hopefully you made the best of it. I have thoroughly enjoyed interviewing the seniors again this year. I am still working through the list but have learned a lot of new things about many of you so far. I have discovered some of the things seniors have on their bucket list. I have learned about some of the great experiences and people they have met during high school. I have also learned about some of the regrets and the missed chances to do better or try harder. It seems as if many seniors wish they would have been more involved in athletics or clubs or other school events. Many shared their sorrow for not taking academics more seriously, especially during the first two years. My advice is to learn from those mistakes and do better in your next endeavor-whatever it might be. Remember that you want to be more involved and succeed early on.
Let me give you some other advice as well. The year is almost over and there are probably a lot of students including seniors you may not even know. It is easy to just associate with the same group of friends and people that we normally hang out with. But there really is so much more out there. Developing positive relationships can really be a key to your success. Take an opportunity to get to know someone you don’t already know. Put down your cell phone for a time and go out and talk to some people you don’t know. Take a chance. Find out what that person likes to do and what their plans are for the future. Who knows, you may meet your next best friend or even your next boyfriend or girlfriend. You may also change that person’s life forever. You never know when someone needs a kind word, or a hello, or just someone to notice them. Even though high school feels gigantic in your life so far, it really is just a small piece of the pie. There is so much more after high school, including college, military, careers, families and more.
You could look back on high school and define yourself as the football player, soccer player, science person, mock trial team member, AVID student, skater, rapper, handball player, or a multitude of other options. Or you could look back and say I helped that person, or remember the time when we did this or that. Or remember how that person loved to cook. Or remember how this person loved to read or watch movies. How did you help or improve your school? Who did you help in your time here? How many people will remember you as the student who was always willing to listen? How many meaningful relationships did you establish? If these are hard questions and you are searching for answers I have two pieces of advice for you. First, take the last month of school and help someone new every day. Search out people that look like they need a hand. Search for someone sitting alone and stop and talk to them. Second, don’t forget this advice as you go off to college or military or career or wherever you may be going. Developing important relationships and helping others can and should permeate your whole life.
You will be missed at West High School. You can be great. Plan and work hard and you can do great things. Come back and share your accomplishments with future students and your teachers. You will always be a member of the Wolf Pack.