As graduation approaches, I have begun to self-reflect to decide which ideals to carry with me into the "real world," and which to leave behind. Through this, I have discovered that everything you taught me is worth remembering.

First, thank you for helping my classmates and me realize that we are more capable than we know. Students are always striving to be perfect – perfect grades, perfect looks, perfect family – but you taught us that being perfect was not the goal. Instead, you told us to do our best, to "never doubt what we were capable of." With every horn pop, first step, and repetition, you sternly reminded us to strive to do better than before because you knew we were capable of excellence.

This lesson applies to everything in life, not just band. I spent hours upon hours studying for each exam I had in college. Sometimes it would pay off, but when it didn't, I didn't put myself down. I can't ask myself to do anything more than my best.

Secondly, I credit my moral principles and honesty to you. You had your morals in check. When we messed up and acted inappropriately, you were the first to point out our flaws in a constructive way to improve our actions. When you yelled at us at rehearsal and later felt that it was uncalled for, you would apologize in front of the entire band. When you had a disagreement with a student and later reconsidered your position, you would tell that student you were wrong. That is huge for high schoolers to see an adult admitting their faults and never acting as if you were superior to us just because you were older.

I will carry that with me forever. As I enter the workforce, I will never act as if I am superior to someone due to age, status, experience, etc.

Lastly, thank you for teaching me that band is my family. Band is sacred - the friends we make in high school band and college band are the ones that matter most, and we need to hang onto them. Life will constantly throw curve balls and new challenges our way, but we never have to tackle life alone. Thank you for having an open-door policy and welcoming any student into your office to ask advice and seek help. You were part of our family, too!

Honestly, there are a million more things that you've taught me, but I'll stick with these for now. Thank you for everything you do. Because of you, I am prepared to graduate and move onto the next phase in my life.