"Excuse me, those shoes are inappropriate; you can't enter," said a patrolling teacher on Thursday, as a freshman tried to enter the awards ceremony in a pair of white slip-on Vans. By junior year, students at my school have (for the most part) accepted "special dress days" as another interesting nuance of our campus experience -- according to the handbook, boys must wear a "coat and tie, folded collar shirt, dress slacks, dress shoes and socks." Similarly, girls must wear a "dress, or skirt and dressy blouse, or dressy pants suit; dress shoes."
I smiled at the poor freshman boy who assumed clean Vans would be deemed acceptable by the administration as "special dress" as long as he wore a tie and a collared shirt -- because our school's peculiarities, though at times confusing in its specificities and formalities, make up much of the richness of our high-school experience. Next year, he'll probably bring a change of shoes.
These past seven days, I finally felt the impending termination of junior year -- like curtains closing as the front door opens.
The junior class regatta -- a day of sailing and class bonding in Monterey Bay -- was a humbling experience against the elements of nature. My classmates and I learned to work with the wind current -- and rediscovered that success cannot be gained merely through memorization and repetition. I gazed out at the endless horizon as the boat tipped and undulated with the waves; time seemed to have stopped, and yet we were still drifting.It was the first time I had ever seen a lighthouse so close. I could not help but think, "No wonder there are endless horror stories about abandoned lighthouses."
"Huckleberry Finn-style" is what I call this sort of rafting. Someday, I'm going to do this -- although without the skin-tight Speedo.
Instead of the traditional senior prank, the senior class of 2008 chose give the entire school a half-day off -- with bouncy houses, a DJ, and a live band.The sun was shining, students were relieved that they didn't have to spend their lunch period finishing up homework, and the wonderful teachers brought their children out to play. We frolicked around the school -- summer finally became a reality. "Only three more weeks," we thought breathlessly.
"Be kind -- for everyone you know is fighting a hard battle," said one of the adult speakers, referring to Plato, at Baccalaureate. He is a loved teacher at my school and is currently battling cancer -- my eyes swelled with tears at his sweet but simple words.
The Baccalaureate ceremony, according to my friend Janet, is "a highly preppy tradition that originated in Oxford University." It's not quite graduation, it's not quite a celebration -- but it was definitely a farewell to the class of 2008. The choir sang "Con te partirò" as we, the class of 2009, sat frozen in our seats in the Quad. Should we have been happy? Should we have been nostalgic? Sad? The emotions left at Baccalaureate were unclear -- and yet unforgettable.
I watched the seniors rehearse for the graduation ceremony, awkwardly practicing how to receive their diploma while smiling charismatically at the camera.
"Okay, we're going to run through this again," I heard. High-school graduation, though a once-in-a-lifetime experience, is rehearsed over and over again. Ironically, it is only the ultimate performance that brings about hearty tears.
I still have two weeks left of school -- but the past three years coexisting with the class of 2008 has taught me that time, that dastardly impenetrable force, withers pasts you before you know it.
Congratulations, dear class of 2008! Oh, and class of 2009? We're almost there, but remember to remember to hold tight.