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Graduation 2024: A Final Reflection

Finn Wagner

Staff Writer

May 27, 2024

As we conclude the last sentence in this tumultuous chapter of our lives, it is vital our reflections upon our high school experience are viewed with a special fondness. This sentiment is important, not because the experience was flawless; but because some stories are only written once, and that itself is reason enough to enjoy the good and the bad, the happy and the sad, and the melancholy moments that will one day be cherished. 

The class of 2024’s high school experience began shakily, to say the least, with the world quarantining and panicking, new challenges were encountered that had not been faced since the Spanish Flu of the 1910s. COVID-19, for a moment, dictated every facet of our lives. School clubs could no longer meet, friendships were maintained from a distance, and the halls once full of smiling faces were covered by masks. Outside of the physical effects, COVID-19 impacted our ability to communicate and express ourselves, hampering our social skills (which some of us, myself definitely included, are still working on) which led to an awkward sophomore year; but still, we overcame.

Sophomore year began as COVID-19 eased its grip, and school began to look much more normal. We came back to school and found our way into groups, clubs, and sports. It was during sophomore year that new friends could officially be made, no longer were we stuck within the confines of middle school relationships, and we truly could bloom into our high school selves. Friendships were made and broken, but again, we overcame. During Junior year, the class of 2024 was finally settled back in. Sporting events had higher turnouts, club involvement grew, and GPAs increased. Bonds between teachers and students no longer felt artificial, and we watched as Westfield grew at the fastest rate yet, while simultaneously, fast food places and stores sprung up exponentially. That growth may have been contagious, given that as the school grew fast, sports teams and involvement did too. Junior year was when many of us had to first reckon with change as so many of us watched our friends, siblings, and foes walk across the stage during the class of 2023’s graduation; but, you guessed it, we overcame. 

Now it’s senior year, and it’s our turn to leave behind the school, our friends, and teachers who have been so influential in our still young lives. Some of us may be counting down the seconds, and others may be longing for more time. Either experience is valid, but I think we can agree there is never an easy way to part with home. This year we have taken strides to become more involved, maybe because we finally began to realize our days here are numbered. I was able to go to my first Westfield football games and the team was a treat to watch. In watching the games I was ecstatic to see us all come together after periods of forced separation, for us all to be one after overcoming adversity, and I began to wonder: Will we still be ‘one’ once we step down from that stage?

Simply, the answer is yes. Our experiences as ROCKS, good or bad, have, and will continue to shape us in our lives—we will always be Shammies, we will always be the class of 2024. This sentiment is for those worried, or afraid they will regret their actions, or inactions, made throughout high school. It is vital to remember a chapter does not define a book, just as a branch does not define a tree. And to those already looking back with a sad fondness, I am with you. As Shamrocks, on May 30, 2024, we will look across a field and see 640 others, all who have endured the strange high school experience we did, and it is there, on that field, that a sense of belonging may form. Like a sprouting tree, our class will grow hundreds of branches, each blooming flowers and leaves—futures dictated, for once, only by us—and in the same way a single tree can transform a desolate landscape, there is more than enough room for us each to change the world. Again, I will reiterate, that adversity will still come; college is not perfect, and the corporate world most definitely is not either; but we will do what we have throughout high school, and again, we will overcome. 

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