An Open Letter Of Gratitude To My High School

An Open Letter Of Gratitude To My High School

To some, going to an all-girls high school would seem like hell, to me it was the best four years of my life (so far).
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To my high school,

I feel like our relationship is very much like a parent and child relationship. Except, instead of having two parents, I had at least 36, but most definitely more. Throughout the four years I spent in your company, I loved and appreciated you, but also was a stubborn kid who wasn’t always a fan of the work and the rules and the parent’s guidance.

However, now that I have been away on my own for two years, my gratitude and sense of appreciation for everything you gave me has only grown and will continue to grow as I go throughout life.

The six classes a day that produced piles a homework were certainly not my favorite things in the moment. The stress was high and seemingly never-ending. But now, that I have five classes, most of which only meet twice a week but still produce the same amount of work, I know I can tackle these to-do lists of assignments because I already have four years of experience in my back pocket.

It is not just my time and stress management that grew, it was the academic work and the high expectations from high school classes that now provide me with confidence in the work I turn in to my professors today. Today when I am assigned a 7-10 page paper, I am not scared because I don't know where to start, instead, I receive the assignment knowing that while it may be a challenge and it will require time and energy, I have the skills and background necessary to do a good job on it.

However, strong work ethic and ability is not cultivated just because of the assignments a student hands in. The people who teach you how to do these assignments and do them well is what makes the difference. I am the scholar I am today because of the English teacher who taught me how to create an argument for a paper, and then after having me for two years pulled me aside in front of a group of my peers to tell me how much growth he had seen in me. To this day, whenever I get frustrated or unsure of my abilities, I think of this moment and it reminds me that I am good at what I am doing and I can get the work done.

The teachers I had, and even some who I didn’t, were constant cheerleaders for all of us at our school. The teacher from freshman year who always complimented me after working at open house events. The teacher who spent hours helping me work with another teacher to write a speech at the end of senior year. The teacher who selected me for a leadership position for a retreat.

These things, little things, really add up. Everyone who would smile, wave, and offer a greeting as we passed in the hallways. Knowing that I was in a place where I was supported, and encouraged made me want to go to school every day.

While there is the stereotype that four years of high school are the worst four years of a person’s life and once they graduate, and move on to the next thing in life they are filled with a sense of relief, I am glad this did not hold true for me. Conversely, when I received my diploma and realized at the end of the summer I would not be coming back to my high school, but would instead be moving across the country to begin college, I was filled with an immense sense of melancholy.

I knew that in some respects, the school had given me all that it could and that if I could have somehow found a way to sneak back for a fifth year, the experience would not be the same, however I don’t think I fully understood how much I would continue to learn from the school once I did arrive at college.

I have truly understood how much my school empowered me in so many different respects, but mainly to share my voice and be unafraid to pursue the things you most want and carry yourself with confidence, unafraid of what others may think.

The school also left a visible impression on me in the way I carry myself as well. On two separate occasions, once by the nurse at the doctor’s office, and the other by an admissions director who was familiar with the Seattle area who was on a college campus tour I was giving, I have been asked if I had gone to Holy Names with very little information given about my background. To be able to be recognized as an alumnus gives me so much pride and joy to have had the opportunity to go to this school and puts a spark within me to continue to give back to the school in whatever way possible in the future.

I do not think I will ever be able to properly articulate what my high school and my high school experience means to me. I am forever grateful and indebted to the teachers and friends who shaped me during my high school experience. I have had multiple conversations with my friends from high school in which we have contemplated where we would be today if it had not been for the education we received. I know I most definitely would not be at the college where I am today, pursuing the degree that I am, and having the internship I am.

My time in high school helped me find my passions and encouraged me to pursue them. I cannot wait to see what other impacts this school will have on me in the years to come, and I sincerely hope that one day I will be able to return and become a part of its day-to-day community once more in some other capacity.

From a very grateful alum,

C.M.

Cover Image Credit: Personal Photo

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An Open Letter To Those Not Graduating On Time

Graduating college in any number of years is an accomplishment to be proud of.
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To the person that isn't graduating on time,

It sucks, and I won't lie to you and tell you it doesn't. The day you walk out of Advising, head hanging down because you aren't going to finish in four years, makes you feel ashamed of yourself. You did well in high school; you were always told you were smart, expected to be smart, so why couldn't you make it out in four years like you were supposed to?

You know you're going to have to tell your family, so you begin preparing yourself for the worst reactions possible. And telling your friends you won't be graduating with them will only add to that sense of hopelessness.

Soon, you'll see photos and posts from people you left high school with, talking about graduation and the wonderful lives they are about to begin in their new careers. You'll wonder how they did it, and you'll feel like a failure.

But you're not.

Graduating from college is a huge deal. It really is. And it will be no less of an accomplishment in five, six, or 10 years.

"According to the Department of Education, fewer than 40 percent of students who enter college each year graduate within four years, while almost 60 percent of students graduate in six years. At public schools, less than a third of students graduate on time."

Things happen. You might change your major. You might have financial troubles. You may take a year off to figure out exactly what you want to do. That's okay. Take all the time you need. The real world and your career will still be there whenever you graduate.

Guess what else. Your family will still love you, and your friends will still support you. Give them some credit. Your loved ones want you to be happy and successful. Don't get me wrong, they may be upset at first, but give them a chance. Odds are, when the emotions settle, they will go right back to asking how classes are going. And when you do get the news that you'll be graduating, they will celebrate with you, and they will be there in the crowd, waiting for you to walk across that stage.

Graduation will happen. If you attend your class and study hard, it will happen. There is no reason to rush. Just do your best. Try your hardest. Take classes when you can. Just by doing that, you're doing more than so many others are able to do.

"Among 18 countries tracked by the OECD, the United States finished last (46 percent) for the percentage of students who completed college once they started it."

You'll get there. Take your time. Enjoy your classes. Find new interests. Study what you love. Embrace opportunities. Study abroad. Take that weird elective class. This is your time to take in everything the world has to offer. Take advantage of that. You'll graduate when you graduate, filled with pride and wisdom. And when they call your name, and you walk across that stage, hold your head up high, because you've earned every bit of your degree.

Graduating from college takes countless hours of studying, long hours in the library, and a tremendous amount of dedication. Don't add pressure to yourself by setting a timer. It is completely okay to graduate when you graduate, and it is still something to be proud of.

Best Wishes,
A woman who is finally graduating

Cover Image Credit: http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/dam/assets/120417041415-education-graduation-cap-story-top.jpg

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Crossroads

Trying to figure out what to do in life.

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I never saw the crossroad

Where I could cross n' roam

Under an arch or dome. [1]

I just kept on the road

That was laid out,

Told to hold out

Till it pays out. [2]

Now I think its too late

Been walking too long,

Classes are all wrong

But masses too strong. [3]

So I follow with my head down

And chest up, succeeding cause

I'm too scared to fuck it up. [4]

But I have a need to lead,

Top-down and gears up

Leaving nothing to the dust.

But if I drop out, I'm a fuck up. [5]

Is it better to live and rust

Or drive till it busts

With trust you can find the way? [6]


[1] - Play on roam/Rome. Starts the poem by expressing the feeling of being trapped in my path in life. I felt like I never got the chance to figure out what I wanted to do.

[2] - I think a lot of it was I was following what people told me I should be doing.

[3] - I have a feeling that it is too late to change my course of life. I'm in a college for business, taking classes about business, and everyone around me wants to do business.

[4] - This is saying that even though I am not passionate about what I am doing I am still trying to succeed only because I'm scared of failing or quitting.

[5] - I want to leave and lead myself, do something where I'm not following but I don't know how to do that. This part starts a car reference, idk I've been watching Formula 1 on Netflix and its dope.

[6] - This is the question I've been asking myself, wondering if I should continue on with my path or follow my passion.

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