Today I will graduate from high school. Well, I mean, I took a ridiculously light class load for the last twelve weeks of school, so I wouldn't say that there is the stereotypical sense of relief that usually comes with graduation. It's really more like I've prolonged today's hour and a half ceremony for the last sixty days. Nearly all of my friends are more than ready to wash their hands of high school. At first, the same could have been said of me. About three weeks ago though, the realization of the event sank in. The last thirteen years of my life have been spent in public schools, surrounded by standardized tests, instructors, and meaningless rules. Those things I will not miss. I am sad because I will be leaving people that I have known for roughly two thirds of my life. These are people that I have grown accustomed to seeing nearly every day of my life, people that have become a vital part of my life, whether they know it or not. They are what I will miss.

Originally I had intended to say something profound that reflected these feelings at graduation, during the valedictorian speech. However, the kibosh was put on that plan when I found out that there are 11 other valedictorians besides myself, and between all of us, we are only going to be given a 5 - 7 minute window to speak. So, the twelve of us have spent the last month and a half planning what we're going to be doing, so that we both include some meaningful profundities and entertainment in our speech. The final result is a little routine where we hold up large signs with painted on letters and arrange ourselves to form various words that embodied our high school experience, that finally culminate into the word "Renaissance." My part of the speech is:

"Classically, the word 'Renaissance' is synonymous with a rebirth or a new beginning. But every new beginning implies an end. For us, this is the end of one part of our lives, and the start of something new."
It may not command the same jaw-dropping response that I would like, but for all conventional purposes, I guess it'll have to do. The rest of the speech consists of the remaining valedictorians thanking various groups of people that have played a part in our lives. I fully intend to thank those that have meant something to me in person, where I can say everything that I want, and not have to worry about other people getting bored...

In preparation for today, a friend of mine that had similar feelings on the whole graduation thing agreed to make the last few weeks the most kick-assinest we could. We planned out contests, themed days, and innocent shenanigans. Some of the most memorable include:

  • Childhood regression: One day, during a period where we were the only two students in the class, Sarah and I constructed a fort out of boxes full of books and a sheet. This wasn't any elaborate structure, you would have found no flying buttresses or parapets, but it served our purposes of transporting us back about thirteen years, to a time where our imaginations would have done most of the building. While inside the fort, we played games from our childhood, like Cootie, and Pick-it, and Go Fish. To wrap up the occasion, we tried our hands at some Play-Doh sculpting. As people came and went through the class, we got some strange looks and curious laughs, but we both knew that they were derived solely out of jealousy.
  • Senseless eating contests: On the same day as the fort building, for some reason or another, the idea of a marshmallow eating contest came up, and not being one to turn down a challenge, I accepted Sarah's almost challenge of my will and gastrointestinal constitution. During lunch we proceeded to buy a bag of marshmallows, the large variety, and decided that we would each eat a mallow, one for one. We both started strong, showing no signs of weakness for the first ten confections. Around twenty or so my mouth became dry from a saturation of sugar and fluff. Finally, tied at 26 mallows, we were running out of time and marshmallows, we each took four of the remaining nine marshies, and had a race to determine the winner. A few quick and agonizing seconds later I emerged victorious. About a week later some friends of mine bought 14 doughnuts and couldn't manage to finish off the lot between the four of them. So, taking their failed attempt as a challenge, I gathered two friends and set out for six dollars worth of pastries. At our local supermarket bakery we bought out all of their jelly and custard filled doughnuts, thinking that if we could finish off those, then it would only further prove our superiority. The three of us started off well, polishing off two doughnuts each with little difficulty. As we emptied the box though, the custard and jelly became that much harder to stomach. Finally though, after finishing off five doughnuts myself, we showed our friends wrong, in a challenge that they never really made...
  • Teacher harassment: Since last year some friends and I had planned to recreate a scene from Billy Madison - the one where Billy and his friends are sitting outside of a fast food restaurant, and they throw the pickles from their burgers onto a window, to race them. This year we finally resolved to race pickles of our own on one of our past teachers windows. Unfortunately, the copious amount of secret sauce on the pickles and gravity were not enough to create a race, and the pickles just kind of sat there on the window, as the class on the other side of the glass looked at us, wondering exactly what we were doing.

Those last few weeks of school showed my just how fun school could be, and made me wonder exactly why it took me thirteen years to figure this out. I would give anything for just a couple more days with those people - the people that I see whenever I remember anything from high school. They're in the walls, the books and the lesson plans. If I take only one thing from the last four years of my life, it’ll be the memories I have with those people.