Exterior of the back of Oakland Mills High School at dusk.

Graduation Feels…

One ending is another beginning.

As graduation approaches and my final year of high school comes to an end, the feelings I have experienced have been very mixed. While it may be sad that what I know so well will be ending, something new is about to begin. 

I have been at Oakland Mills for all four years of my high school career, so my journey has been very interesting with how I’ve been able to see all the changes and adaptations this school has made over the years. 

Virtual learning began in the second semester of my freshman year and continued for my entire sophomore year. When it all began, I was naturally excited not to have school. I did not mind online learning at first. This type of learning felt the same but with a much lighter load than the work we got in person. I learned the same way in most of my classes. I would read in English and answer questions on Google Docs for science just like I always did. With the extreme lack of connection to my classes I once did have connections with, it did not feel right to finish with nothing truly there, but I understood that it was for our safety. 

After the weird and abrupt ending of freshman year, the even weirder beginning to sophomore year began. Still in my pajamas, I got up and on my computer to attend my first full year of online classes. No matter which way you spun it, that year was very strange. There were no faces to see besides the teacher’s face on Google Meet, lots of long, awkward pauses, and a completely new way to learn everything. It ruined my productivity because I was allowed to be lazy. If online learning had continued past my sophomore year, I would have never been able to truly miss this school after graduation. 

Thankfully, my junior year was mostly back to normal with the exception of having to wear masks every day. Junior year was a big precursor to my senior year. It set me up for how I would feel today and how I would feel leaving Oakland Mills. I have met some of the underclassmen, and knowing the younger years have added more value to this school for me and makes me wish I could still see them everyday. Finally, in my senior year, I began to feel different. Instead of having a sense of dread for every day of school, I felt hope. I was hopeful about this being the final year and happy to finally be graduating, and while those feelings are still there, I have also started to feel slightly sad about leaving. After befriending some of the underclassmen, I felt as though I was missing out on something. They are getting to experience more of high school than I did. But, I realize that is just how life is sometimes. Even for people who want to keep others around, someone often has to leave so you can both evolve separately. Graduation is like a flower, the seeds will spread from where they came and move to bloom somewhere else. Inevitably things move on and I use that to accept the fact that graduation is the end and beginning of different lives.
School is meant to only be a fraction of life, and the ability to move on is even more crucial as you will always come across moments in life that call for acceptance of change. I am not nervous about graduating at all, but the fact that my high school career is ending does make me anxious. Let us embrace the change and be excited that new things will be opening in our future. Life is ever-changing and everyone will encounter things they do not understand and are not ready for, but graduation is only the beginning of that feeling. I want the future seniors to know this: it is okay to not miss school after graduation, but never forget how these years changed you and who you are when you leave.

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