Dear 2022 Graduates

Published 3:24 pm Monday, May 23, 2022

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By Elisabeth Altamirano-Smith | Community Columnist

This week, high school graduates around the county say “goodbye” to a lifestyle they have known since the beginning of their conscience lives. Graduation is the bittersweet end of a chapter and marks a new era. “Growing pains” are real and the Class of 2022 has grown up together; learning how to tie their shoes, form a straight line, multiply fractions, drive a car, get along well with others, read through The Iliad and share their dreams of the future with one another.

“Generation Z” as they are commonly referred to, is known for being more entrepreneurial in spirit, researchers, more outspoken and more independent than previous generations. Being born after the technology boom, they have always had access to the internet and a cellphone. Half of their high-school experience has been marked with a pandemic which has dictated when and how they could go to school for “in-person learning” and socialize at school functions like prom.

However, like all young people before them, the Class of 2022 is resilient and have seemingly enjoyed a normal high school experience.

“I will miss socializing with my friends and cutting up in class,” said CCHS graduate, Kolby Hughes, who was voted class clown. “For the future, I am looking forward to pursuing a criminal justice career and being able to help people.”

“I enjoyed getting to serve as class president,” said Jemison graduate, Camden Cummings. “We discussed things in detail together, and it made our class better, making decisions collectively. I also enjoyed serving as SGA president. One of my favorite memories was Special Olympics. Spending time with the Special Olympic athletes made them feel special and made everyone feel special. I am thankful for teachers and administrators, especially Mrs. Vicki Winslett, SGA advisor and math teacher. I wouldn’t be who I am today without her.

“My mother has made the most positive impression on my senior year,” said Verbena graduate, Emilee Hayes. “Not only does she work for the school, but she also works another job to help (pay) for my senior and sports fees. She has probably worked harder to get through senior year than I have. I will miss my sports teams and my small group of friends. I’ve cherished every memory I’ve made.  My favorite moment at Verbena was Prom Night. It was a fantastic time with my best friends and I’ll look back on it for the rest of my life.”

“There are several things I will miss about Jemison High,” said Jemison graduate, Hayden Robinson. “Sports are, by far, my favorite high school moments and memories. I was a three-sport athlete and will miss all of my coaches and teammates and cutting up on the school bus on the way to the games. I have also enjoyed the senior week activities that we did.”

For adults that have graduated long ago, looking back on “School Days” seems like time in a bottle. Our first 20 years of life is filled with an eclectic mix of memories such as what a box of crayons smells like, dressing out for P.E. and socializing with friends on the school bus. We remember the teachers that gave us their best guidance and dedicated their life to making each of us better. We remember difficult social issues and making our first BFF. Other than clubs, sports and extracurricular activities, there is always social inclusion for everyone.

For those graduating, remember and be thankful of your school days. Even if you did not always enjoy your school experiences, it is part of your past now. Respect where you have come from because it is part of your DNA. No one dictates your future success other than yourself. Try to learn from every experience and every person (no matter their job title.) Most importantly, even though they are cliché classroom posters, “Believe in Yourself” and” Shoot for the Stars!”