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High school graduation offers a fresh start

Editor's note: This is a letter that Josh Ward ?submitted to The Buffalo News in April. Although he has since graduated, it speaks to what many high school seniors may be feeling at this time.

"Before anything else, preparation is the key to success." – Alexander Graham Bell

It seemed that only yesterday, I walked into my freshman year so small and naive; faced with being the underclassman, I had to work toward where I stand today. Senior year is coming to a close, and I face being an underclassman again, yet it looks different than it did four years ago. I've grown, I'm smarter, and am a little taller. I can only imagine what it will feel like, that in a few months high school is to be a chapter closed. I come to think of freshman year; being so excited to start a new adventure, but looking back I see how quickly it has gone by.

Preparation is defined as "something done to get ready for an event or undertaking." This is what high school has done for me. As each individual is different, so their high school career is too. It has been a journey, and a crazy one at that. Seeing how each senior grows and matures throughout the years has been incredible. I think of all the successes of awards, grades and friendships that I have acquired. I also then think of all the failures, tests bombed, friendships severed, arguments lost and so on. At that moment, I struggled, hating the hurt, yet was excited for the good. But what happens next is even better: College offers a new fresh start.

Although graduation comes with much anticipation, much like a finish line does to a sprinter, it is hard to say goodbye. For many, this will be the last that friends will be as close as they are now. For many, it will be good-bye till the school reunion. Yet, college shows which friends will be there in the end. For me, I have found those friends. Some of my closest friends are past graduates, and I love them dearly. High school seems like it will last forever, a trance that students face and to which they soon adapt. But for seniors, the trance begins to break up, and the reality of the world settles in; and the friends that stand beside us through this disintegration are the ones that will be there when life hands us our lowest lows.

Yet what excites me about college is the idea of new opportunity. High school, as most of us know, was never easy. It came with hardships and other things that built and shaped us to what we are today. However, this new chapter I face allows me to start fresh. There will be no presuppositions, no failure marks, and not even our success list. As seniors, about to become alumni, we have the chance to start clean and reshape our lives. This chance doesn't come often in life, but we can change our future for the better.

Transferring to an online academy for senior year has had its difficulties, just as public or private students face theirs. Although it may look different, I still encounter preparation for my future and am excited for it. I would encourage all seniors to stay focused until the end. It's hard; I know because I'm there with you. But we have a chance to finish strong, graduate and start a new life, whatever that may be for you. Play smart, live smart. Be the best you can be, and make a true difference for yourself and your community. For me, I'm excited to see what college brings; it's a new challenge, a new adventure, and one that I look forward to meeting head-on.