By: Eileen McCormick
As June progresses the graduation date for this year’s seniors, my graduating class, grows nearer and nearer until it is so close that we can all just about see it. Just beyond that day is a period of time that will be different for each of us, one in which some of us leave, some of us stay, and all of us face the most dramatic change of our lives thus far– having to face life on the other side of high school. Although it is cliche and although it is dramatic, it is without a doubt the most real period of life for all of us. For the first time we won’t have the safety net of home, high school, and, for many of us, the friends we’ve always known. For the first time real failure is about to become a real possibility and it is terrifying.
We’ve been fortunate to attend JCHS over these past four years in a safe town that has a pretty equal mix of people who have lived here or in this area for their entire lives and people who have moved here because they know that it is a nice place to live. Our town is small and friendly enough that most people know each other but big enough that there are plenty of new people to interact with. It’s suburban enough to be pretty calm but close enough to New York City and the Jersey shore to keep it exciting. Our schools have some amazing teachers that have helped me and many others shape our futures and coaches that have done the same for our athletes. We’re small enough that our education has felt personal, but large enough and talented enough to have champion sports teams and an exceptional arts program. It’s going to be sad and difficult to leave this behind, but I think I, like many of my classmates, am ready for what’s going to happen next.
For each of us, that next step is different, but whether we are working, going to school close to home, or, like me and several others, going to school very far away, we are about to leave this safety net and come to the realization that everywhere isn’t like home here in Caldwell. Other places are harsher, more unforgiving, and nowhere will have that same feeling, whether you enjoy living here or not, of a history that is crucial to our development as people. It’s been difficult to come to grips with this fact, the fact that we are all about to leave the only lives we’ve really ever known to venture out into something that we don’t know anything about. By coming from a relatively small school we’ve known a limited amount of people and have shared most of our experiences and so this step forward is going to be a shock, no matter how prepared we think that we are. As someone pointed out to me a few months ago, after June 19, we might never see the many of the people that we’ve subconsciously seen every Monday through Friday for four, seven, or even twelve years again.
This kind of leaving, where you know that it’s inevitable and so you live waiting for it to finally happen, can make even the most unsentimental people wish that they could hold onto these last few moments of familiarity. However, time is unforgiving and so we must continue to move forward and hope that we can build futures that will be even stronger than the pasts that we are leaving behind. Although what we are leaving is not perfect and there have been many times when all any of us wanted was for everything to disappear in order for us to move forward, it is beautiful the way that we can still come together to protect and support the people that we have in our lives. Recently, that amazing effort of coming together to support those we love has proved the goodness of all of us. I am confident that, as demonstrated in these last few weeks, we are coming from a strong community that has proven to be, in the toughest of times, thoughtful, proactive, and loving.
Good luck to all of this year’s graduation seniors in everything that you are pursuing, and even though after June 19 we may not see each other, we are all a part of a collective history which has formed some of the most crucial parts of who we will become, and so we have all played a part in each other’s futures.