Last night's graduation ceremony was really a night for dreams to become reality. Sure, it may be hard for us as students in Upper St. Clair to ever imagine not receiving our high school diplomas, but the commencement exercise still brought about a special feeling in each graduate.
For me, one of my longterm goals and dreams came to fruition last night, as I stood at the podium and gave the student-body elected speech. Eight years ago, I sat under the sweltering sun at my oldest brother's high school graduation. The next year, I watched as my father spoke at his alma mater, Steel Valley High School, in Homestead. A few years later, my brother stood behind the podium yet again at his law school commencement.
My father and oldest brother are two of my many role models, so seeing them speak time and time again encouraged me to try my best to get my own moment at the mic. After delivering a speech in my eleventh grade English class, my desire to be at the podium on graduation day became even stronger.
I knew if I wanted to have a chance to speak in front of my peers, our families, and the school's faculty, I would have to think of something that stood out. So, throughout the year, I interviewed classmates from every social circle. I wanted to know what they had learned beyond the classroom walls over the last 13, and especially 4, years as USC students. (For anyone who has been following my "End of Senior Year" blog posts, I revealed some of my findings in the "Lessons We've Learned" entry). Last week, I found out my dream had come true; I had been chosen to speak.
After singing with the Pantheon Choir and listening to a few speeches at the Baccalaureate ceremony in the theatre, I marched toward the field with the Class of 2012 to the tune of "Pomp and Circumstance." Once we heard that familiar song, it seemed as though the end of high school was finally hitting all of us. As we walked through the white picket fences the lined the center of the field, we were one step closer to the next chapters of our lives.
Bound speech in hand, I headed toward the podium also holding an paperclip. I remember seeing the open paperclip in a movie one time, and, though it may be a completely psychological trick, the twisted piece of metal grounded my nerves.
I spoke of the strides the Class of 2012 has made in learning to read- how our learning has not stopped on the pages of dusty Shakespeare and Homer books. At the end of the journey we call high school, my graduating class has learned to read one another. We have recognized that we each have our own unique spot in the high school hierarchy, and we have learned that there may be some perks to being a wallflower. Above those lessons, many of us have also learned to redefine "friendship" individually and through experience in the gossip-ridden hallways.
We remembered our first taste of reality on September 11 in second grade, when a frenzied gathering of teachers interrupted our competitive game of "Around the World" in Spanish class. And, we recognized the achievements of our fellow classmates, realizing that we were a part of an exceptional group of people.
After we each received our diplomas, we waited for that magical moment when we would be presented as the graduated Class of 2012. On cue, we moved our tassels to the right and tossed our caps into the air. That moment could be summed up with the words authored by USCHS graduate Stephen Chbosky because, "In that moment, I swear we were infinite."