Seniors present at the senior sunrise pose facing the sun at Dorothea Dix park. Seniors participating in the unofficial school event arrived decked out in college gear on the last Friday before test week to create some final lasting memories. (Photos by Christopher Remaley)
Seniors present at the senior sunrise pose facing the sun at Dorothea Dix park. Seniors participating in the unofficial school event arrived decked out in college gear on the last Friday before test week to create some final lasting memories.

Photos by Christopher Remaley

To the class of 2022: One final goodbye

June 11, 2022

Senior Ryan Markley is shown reading her debut children’s book, “Life on Pandemic Avenue,” to a group of young students. “My proudest achievement revolved around using the book I created to help children struggling during the pandemic. Specifically, being able to read it to children at their school as well as people sending me pictures of their children enjoying the book meant a lot,” said Markley. (Photos by Ryan Markley)
Students pose around a camera during Athens’ first ever culture day, organized with the help of seniors Anokhi Thambugala, Noor Al-Sabbagh, Hajira Ahmed, and Sneaha Santra. Students were given a chance to share their culture through food samplings, dance performances, and various other displays. (Photos by Noor Al-Sabbagh)

This year, I took time to return to the simple things I loved most in life. Amongst the receding aftermath of COVID, political turmoil, the Great Resignation, and many other historical moments for the class of 22, many of us felt compelled to find peace by returning to simple joys. No more ambitious travel plans, no more elaborate social events. The desire never goes away, only the opportunity. We all wanted these things, but had grown accustomed to simpler substitutes. One of the many rediscovered pleasures was time spent reading.

“The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho, a story about a young shepherd boy living in the Andalusian region of Spain with dreams spanning all corners of the Earth, was a spirit-soothing favorite of mine. The story speaks of more than the boy’s life but also reassures readers of the forgiving nature of the universe. A recurring theme is the idea of Santiago’s personal legend. The concept entertains the idea that each of us is destined for a personal legend, our ultimate calling most close to our heart. The universe is constantly in our favor to achieve it, but the closer we get to our calling, it will also test our resolve through trials and obstacles. Can any of us really say we haven’t been tested?

Senior Benjamin Peeler is pictured above during his college signing. Peeler committed to Brevard College for baseball. “I look forward to being on my own and more intense practices,” said Peeler. (Photos by Benjamin Peeler)

But alas, the clouds have broken and the light is shining again. As we reach the end of a year of healing, it seems the entire world has stopped abruptly in its tracks, realizing the decades we spent forgetting to just live. Countless seniors have chosen a path in life that awards them more in life than just degrees and a restless future- they choose to seek their personal legends. Many are slowing down- the planners amongst us are taking the time to go to Wake Tech and discover their interests before taking the leap to college, the curious minds of our class are headed off to various universities with a vision of learning and living in mind, the bravest amongst us are choosing to serve in the armed forces.

In the greater scale of our era, Americans are resigning, seeking fulfillment rather than feeling obliged to stick to a path of life that does not serve them best.

From toddler to teen, senior Dasaun Robertson sees his way through life with a smile. (Photos by Dasaun Robertson)

Through this journey, it can be easy to lose sight of how far we’ve come despite the obstacles. Life is always changing in small increments but every now and then, something big comes along to remind us just how much we’ve grown. It’s always a bittersweet feeling to see how much we’ve gained, but remember what we’re putting down so we may pick up the pen for this next chapter. To graduate hurts a bit more than it hurt to start scheduling our own doctor’s appointments, to stop looking back and waving at your mother’s car as she leaves the carpool line, to click send on college applications, to speak to friends we once cried with over scraped knees only once a week or even once a month.

Senior Zoe Som poses with Junior Arwa Sattar during her proudest achievement of senior year- an initiative she led to implement consistent supplies of period products in bathrooms across the drive. (Photos by Amena Matcheswala)

That’s because it is the net loss of all the little things we once did as children and the net gain of every sinew of character we have built from the good times and the bad. It hits us all at once; all the ways we’ve shed the ignorance and joy of childhood, and now face the deep yet beautiful mystery of moving on.

If there is anything I want the entire class of 22 to know, it is that I am proud of us, no matter our differences. May we always choose wheels over doors. May we always hold ourselves to the standards of kindness and empathy that a pandemic nurtured us into feeling. May we forever choose to let others love no matter how loudly or softly it suits them to do so. May our ambitions bring us wealth in many forms, from money, to joy, to purpose. Like Santiago, may we seek character over perfection and always remember from our experiences the strength of unity in the face of calamity. Class of 22, the universe is in your favor.

 

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