As an eighth-grader, I dreamed of going to a prestigious private school. Nothing was wrong with my current learning environment, in fact, it was pretty great, but I quickly got sucked into the allure of a big name.

I faced the choice between my "Zoey 101" dreams or remaining with what was familiar. Ultimately, however, I made the decision to remain at the local public school district I had attended my whole life, and I have not once regretted this resolution.

Public school often carries a sort of negative connotation - maybe you even assumed the title of this article was sarcasm. Sure, there are great public schools, but often private school proponents look upon their public counterparts with scorn. Other public school students regard the school system with disdain as well.

One common thread I have observed, however, is that those who take this viewpoint often blame the school for their own shortcomings. Instead of taking full advantage of the wealth of AP courses, competent staff members, and bounty of opportunities for involvement, students often ignore these resources and instead opt to bash what the system lacks, rather than acknowledge the opportunities it affords them.

"It would be so much better if I went to private school."

"(Insert public school name here) is the worst!!!"

"Public high school is a hell hole that should not exist!"

These are all sentiments I have heard echoed frequently amongst my classmates. Not once, however, have I ever shared these sentiments.

I'll be the first to admit that public school certainly has its faults. In fact, there's tons. However, learning to deal with these faults, and still making the most of my educational experience has been the most valuable lesson I have learned throughout all of my years of schooling.

Public school isn't simply circumstances to be overcome. Instead, it's a time of great opportunity to grow and flourish into the person we are each meant to become.

I am immensely grateful to the teachers, clubs advisors, and other influencers who guided me throughout my high school experience. Not once have I felt that "all they cared about was getting a good report."

In these people, I found unwavering support and guidance in every endeavor I explored in my time in high school and beyond. I always knew there were classrooms I could go to when I needed extra help, a refuge, or someone to talk to.

They were invested in far more than my grade in their classroom; they cared and listened to what I had to say.

My public school education wasn't perfect, but nothing is. Yet, the positive experiences of this time period of my life far outweighed the negatives.

Thank you for helping me find my passions. Thank you for my best friends. Thank you for all the great memories.

Thank you, public school, for helping make me, me.