Today is a day of tremendous importance in my life.

Today is the last day of high school. Not just this year; it's the last day of my mandatory education. I'm finally graduating. Within the last five days, I have just become a legal adult, gotten a job at a movie theatre, and am leaving the school district that I have belonged to for thirteen years.

That's a pretty intense week.

However, there is one thing I would like to say as I head out the door: I never could have made it through high school without the help of my friends. I realize that may sound like a cliché, but it really is true. My friends have been the most important people in my life. Unfortunately, it is quite possible that once everybody receives their diplomas and the last notes of Pomp and Circumstance die away, I may not see some of the people I hold dear again until the 10-year reunion. As such, I would like to thank the people I will always love and remember for everything they have done.

Thank you, Jory, for leading the way. You have known me longer than any of my other friends, and I have cherished every year of that friendship. Whenever anything tough came up, if I knew that you had done it, that thought always made me feel better. For that I thank you.

Thank you, Patrick and Steve, for always being there. Without you two, I never could have made it through middle school. Both of you were in the original "gathering group," and you two played an instrumental part in making me the person I am today. Patrick, I knew the first day you moved here that I wanted to be your friend. Steve, I wanted to meet you a year before we ever actually met. You two gave me stability in a hectic time. For that, I thank you.

Thank you, David, Chris, and Zach, for brightening my life. When you three first combined with the trio of Patrick, Steve, and I, I knew that the following years would be fun. All of you can nearly always make me laugh. No matter what I have said, I know in my heart that all of you are good, loyal friends. All of you have been the best friends possible for years. Without you three, life would be boring. You always could make it interesting. For that, I thank you.

Thank you, Nathanael, for being so amazing. You are so talented in everything that you have done, and you have been the ideal that I always wanted to match. Of course, I was never diligent enough in anything to meet the bar that you set, but it never hurt to try. I feel blessed to have been in your presence so often, as a musician, as an academic, and as a friend. Your talent is an inspiration to us all. For that, I thank you.

Thank you, Teri and Ashley, for teaching me the true value of friendship. Although it wasn't until late in my high school career that I began hanging out with you two, I truly enjoyed the time we spent together. Yet it wasn't until after I made things wierd that I realized how much I missed you two. I now know not to fly too close to the sun when friendship is concerned, and I feel that I am a better person for having learned that. For that, I thank you.

Thank you, Linzie, for simply being you. Your attitude towards life was always refreshing, and your mere presence made everyday life seem less stressful. I always felt that you were a person I could talk to without fear of being judged. I only regret that we didn't become closer sooner. Your personality and spontaneity always brought a smile to my face. For that, I thank you.

Thank you, everybody I met in kindergarten and first grade, for sharing so many memories with me. We all have had the pleasure of seeing each other grow up, and I believe that creates a special bond. As high school went on, everybody forgot who came from which middle school, but we all remembered the people who had been with us from the very beginning. No matter where we go in life, we will always remember our fellow Ewing Young Pioneers. You people have grown with me, and provided wonderful memories in the process. For that, I thank you.

Thank you, everybody I met in middle school, for bringing change into my life. Although some of you didn't like me at first and I didn't like some of you, I met some really cool people here. One can't lead a sheltered life forever, and I learned some valuable lessons in middle school. You guys prepared me for high school, and in retrospect, 7th and 8th grade weren't that bad. Overall, you people changed my life for the better. For that, I thank you.

Thank you, everybody I met in high school, for completing the experience. The past four years have been some of the most fun, and that was largely because of the new friends I made. There are too many of you to list here, but I owe a huge debt to all of you who did their part to make life delightful. Without you, my life would be different. I like everything you people have done with it. For that, I thank you.

"Make new friends, but keep the old,
One is silver and the other is gold."

In my mind, you are all golden.

I love you all.