My mother asked me what I would have said if I was the one making a speech for graduation instead of the valedictorian. At the time I told her that I didn't know, but now I realize what I would have said. Pulsations of thrill spread throughout my body as I made that final walk with my classmates to begin the graduation ceremony. The flurry of familiar faces blinded me to the single fact that flailed its arms frantically to try to gain my attention. Only when I had received my high school diploma, turned around, and beheld the football field did I recognize that this was the last time I would see most of these people, either for life or at least until the ten-year reunion. How many times had I rehearsed my excitement in my head? Yet there I was, stricken by the revelation that had failed to beat down the doors of my enthusiasm for all of senior year. It was really over.
As much as I hated the last-minute weepy feeling of nostalgia and loss, I would not have lived my last four years any differently. It is a far better thing to have seen every smile, heard every laugh, and felt every tender embrace than to have lived an ignorant but painless four years without the people I have met. At West Covina High School, I have learned what it means to be a true friend, how to balance extracurriculars and academics, and how much a great teacher can affect a student's life. The mundane yet life-altering experiences that confronted, greeted, befriended, and surprised me will never lose their mark on my heart. Never would I trade the dear people I have loved and lost in West Covina. So as much as I hate to say goodbye, dear friends, I would hate it far worse to give up saying hello; the memories of you are too life-changing to let go of.