Laughter and words of encouragement

June 17, 2010 

Over two hundred chairs sat facing west on the Yosemite High School football field as the band played, seniors took their seats, all dressed in the traditional navy blue, with stoles that read "YHS" and "2010." With the sun starting to sink low in the clear sky, the graduation ceremony began at 7:30 on Wednesday, June 9, to be filled with cheering, laughter, words of encouragement and tears of pride.

Even though I have not yet experienced the sense that I am leaving behind an entire part of my life, there is a subconscious feeling of satisfaction.

Graduation caps have been thrown, transcripts mailed and the final good-byes to our teachers and classmates have been scribbled in yearbooks. No more essays on Chilean feminism of the 1940s, no more late night reviews of environmental issues, no more diagrams of the Loop of Henle in the kidneys. That is, until the fall and the first semester of college.

High school was not only about trying to reach the 4,000 word requirement for a report about the Christmas Truce during World War I. High school was as much about social interactions as it is about education.

Over the four years, I have formed bonds not only with fellow classmates but also my teachers that I am devastated to break. I spent three years with my biology teacher, Carole Calderwood because to the International Baccalaureate courses at Yosemite High School. It is because of her that I discovered a love of biotechnology and also of kayaking due to the annual Science Club trip to Monterey Bay.

Now that I reflect back, I can see the changes in myself and those around me. The first semester of my sophomore year, I learned that I resented my English teacher, Matt Skeahan. Yet, after the discovery of a shared quirky sense of humor and I gained a respect for the instructor, whose wit, insight and sheer sarcasm shall influence my essays throughout my college years.

It is impossible not to grow attached to someone when you spend a few hours a day with them week after week. I often joked with my history teacher, Rebecca Hardison, that our daily chats were actually therapy sessions.

It truly is amazing the type of teachers that educate the youth at Yosemite High School, such as Spanish instructor and Academic Decathlon coach Steve Browning. I can only describe him as a wild man, who loves his wife, his Harley, his rock music and his students just as much as he loves life. His energy is infectious and it is impossible not to want to learn when he throws jokes into lectures and turns assignments into playthings.

Then, there's work, clubs, volunteering, sports and all around life that wedges itself into the mess that is a high school memory. Since most of my family still lives in Russia, my high school graduation was not a huge excuse for celebration, yet I was surprised by how many people that I work with at Raley's presented me with cards and congratulations.

I have not had a true weekend since I started my employment at the store during my sophomore year, but my time there was worth every movie I missed and lack of sleep on weekends due to all the laughter, complaints and clean-ups on aisle 12.

I do believe that when I reminisce upon my high school years in the future, I will not miss high school. I will miss its principle, its spirit. And whatever it is my fellow graduates have chosen to do, whether it's university, a vocation, the military or perhaps touring California with an amateur band, it will done with a sense of completion and the memory of four years well-lived.

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