You will probably never read this, I know, unless you someday stumble upon this small corner of the internet. By the time you do read this, you will probably wonder if this was about you at all. You’ll have to count back the years, try to see if this was the year that you graduated. Try to remember my name. Who I was. What that class was like…
That crazy Creative Writing teacher…the one who left to have a baby in your senior year. The one that knew all of your crazy secrets and never told a soul. Or maybe that stuck up Creative Writing teacher who didn’t teach you a whole heck of a lot of anything. I don’t know. History has a way of changing the way we remember things, doesn’t it.
Either way, I figure I’ll write this now while you’re still here, fresh in my mind. While I can still look across the room to you all (okay, really five of you out of a class of 15…not that I’m counting) typing away on your computers, trying to finish up the last project that I gave you. That you’re finishing last minute, but hey, that’s okay. I’m ready to be checked out too.
I remember when you all came into my room that first day, some four years ago. Normally, freshmen are scared and meek, but not you guys. I think I was more awkward that day than you were. Though I tend to be awkward a lot, to be serious. We played the name game and I heard your names for the first time. Pronounced some of them wrong, of course. I always do. But you didn’t yell at me…no, that didn’t come for another few weeks at least, when you got a bit more comfortable.
I was learning along with you. Learning how to be a better teacher. Learning how to show you where to go and what to do here. You were learning how to feel each other’s personalities out. Sometimes you were fantastic. Other times…well, I can remember many a fight that first year. Ka threatening to hit everyone. An trying to fight Ka. Ky encouraging An. Dy laughing at everyone from the corner. And mostly everyone not doing the work. Wanting me to come up with “Creative Talking” ideas, so you wouldn’t have to write.
That first year was HARD. I remember dreading having to come back to you all in the fall. You probably knew that though. You didn’t hold it against me though. We did lose some people from the program that year. Some chose to go elsewhere. But we moved on. You all grew up quite a bit over that summer. And you grew up a lot over the past 4 years in general. I suppose high school students always do.
But you all were the first class I took from freshmen to seniors. You were the first kids that I called “my kids.” Because you were. I didn’t have any babies then, and you guys were it. Whether you know it or not, I gave a piece of myself to you, and I will be sad to see each of you go.
Now we’re in the last two weeks together. I’m sitting at my desk, looking at those of you that are here, and I’m trying not to cry. Thank goodness Dy isn’t here to tease me about it again. I’ll try to hold it together on exam day. But you know how I am.
I will miss you all so much, even though I never would have thought it possible in the beginning. You have each left an indelible mark on my heart. I have been so proud of each of you for so many different ways. Here’s a short list of remarks I have for each of you.
L.G.- You have overcome so much since we have been together. Coming from another country, overcoming a language barrier, dealing with loss, learning about yourself, and becoming friends with others. It has been a joy to watch you grow and look at your writing progress. Even if it’s not always technically perfect, your words come from your heart and move whoever reads it. Remember when you read that poem. Remember how everyone reacted. It was beautiful and true, and so very you. Don’t let anyone try to take that away from you.
V.F.- Girl, you are a powerhouse. For someone who has been quiet for so long, I have seen your words come to life. You have so much to say and show the world. Please don’t stop writing. Even if it’s just for yourself. Continue to be an example of what people should be like (hey, we’ll forget what happened with Mrs. Q, okay?). You are an amazing young woman, and I can’t wait to see where the future will take you.
S.M.- I’ve seen you more than most, because I got to have you as a student every day this year instead of just every other day. If anyone in this class could make it as a writer, I think it could be you. And no one is more deserving. You have a drive that I haven’t seen in many of my students, and the amazing thing is that even though you’re going through senioritis, you are still pretty driven. I’ve dealt with a lot worse. But not only are you a great writer, you have to be one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. You are selfless and friendly to everyone. It will go a long way for you in the future. I will miss you…don’t forget about me, and try to mention me in at least one of your dedications, hm?
D.B.- I don’t think that anyone knows what you have been through as much as I know. I know you don’t like to talk about it, and you don’t like to use it as a crutch. But knowing what i know and knowing you, it just shows how strong you really are. Heck, I don’t think I would have held up as well as you have. Especially with your knee, and your elbow, and all of the concussions…Yep. You are one piece of work, that’s for sure. When you focus, you are amazing. And when you don’t…well, you know what happens. Pretend like life is a baseball field and you are the star player. Keep that in mind and you will do just fine. Don’t let anyone take you for granted. And don’t fall into the traps that people set you up for. Be yourself. Be unabashedly yourself. Don’t worry about what anyone else thinks or says…do that, and I’m sure you’ll be fine.
C.M.- One of these days, I’ll see you again, and you’ll be getting married. And I’ll just shake my head, laughing, because that’s one of the only things we talk about. Boys. And your family. Which is good, because you know what’s important in life. Family. And love. Just don’t get lost in other people. Don’t let some guy take advantage of that great big heart you have. Stand up for yourself, and don’t become the arm candy for some guy who doesn’t appreciate all you have to offer. Because you have a lot to offer. You’re amazing and fantastic. You can hold your own. So remember to do that sometimes. You’re worth so much more than you think!
C.W.- You’re another one who goes through a lot and doesn’t tell anyone. You don’t want to be seen for those things and instead want to be seen for who you are and what you accomplish. I commend you for that, because you are so much more than the obstacles you overcome. That is a part of who you are, but it is not all there is to you. You are bright, beautiful, and just one of the nicest people around. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone speak an awful word about you (Unless you count D, and he doesn’t count, because he says mean things about everyone. lol). Keep being the helpful, humble, sweet woman you are!
A.H.- The makeup world isn’t ready for your brand of fierce. And the world may not be ready for your brand of crazy. But that’s okay, because you’ve already learned that it doesn’t matter whether people are ready. They can take you or leave you as you are. Continue to refuse to compromise on your beliefs simply to make other people comfortable. You do you. Continue to do you. And you will make the world better for it.
K.H.- You weren’t even originally my baby, but you sure as heck made your mark when you came to me, didn’t you? And we didn’t hit it off at first. We bumped heads, quite a few times. And then a few times more. It didn’t make me hate you. You’re willful, sure, but you have a lot that you’re fighting against. Sometimes, it came out in fighting against me. I understand. You don’t let your circumstances be an excuse. You don’t try to use it as a crutch. But sometimes it’s okay to admit that you’re in a place where you need some extra sympathy. Because I’m all too happy to give it. You are amazingly talented in many ways. Don’t let other people try to make you feel as if you’re not worth it. You continue to amaze me with your accomplishments, and I hope to hear about many more in the future.
M.D.-You too have overcome so much, but I think that you don’t see it that way. We may not have always been on the best of terms, but I think that we have a mutual respect either way. You have matured and grown into a wonderful woman, one that I am proud to have accompanied on her journey. I hope that what you have learned at NH has prepared you to go into a career where you can spread your light to others. Teach other people to see the joy in dark situations. Help bring smiles to the people who need it most. Keep loving the things that you do, and remember that when you focus, girl, you can accomplish anything…and you’ll do it all while looking fabulous.
K.S.- I already wrote most of this in your yearbook, but I’ll place it here anyway. You have become SUCH a different person than when you were a freshman. Not in personality, per se. You’ve always been the dark, death-obsessed, fan-fiction loving, emo/goth girl. But you’ve lost some of that immature edge that made you want to punch everyone…or at least you’ve settled down enough to not announce it to the world. That’s a good thing. Punching people as an adult lands you in jail. You can think it all you want. Write stories about it. It’s a good outlet, no? Keep fighting the good fight, even if it’s in your head. Pick good people to hang out with. Remember that people aren’t always horrible, even when you think they are. I think going to school will help you see that some.
E.F.- I remember when you tried to convince me that your name was Leslie. See how well that worked? Instead, I’ve called you by your given name for the past four years. When other people called you by your middle name…nope. Why? Not out of spite, but because I want you to be proud of who you are and where you come from. Your name is your mother’s name, and it is a powerful one. It is unique, and it is so you. Whether you’re watching videos on the computer, or laying on the floor, or announcing to everyone that you have gone commando even when no one needed to hear it…that is the one thing that I can say. You have always been nothing but you. Continue to follow that inner voice and dance to the beat of your own drum. Sure, some people will look at you as if you’re crazy, but being crazy isn’t always a bad thing. It worked out well for me, I think. 😉
S.D.- As a freshman, you were quiet and meek. Slowly, you’ve grown into your own person, and if you told me that freshman you and senior you were the same person, I wouldn’t believe it. Every day is something different from you, even if it’s just your hair or your clothes. You are a chameleon, flowing with your whims and fancies, becoming one person one day, someone else the next. And it reflects in your words, and in the way people relate to you. You continue to surprise everyone with your candor and grace. I am so glad that I got to bear witness to your transformation over these four years. Some people say “Don’t ever change.” To you, I say, “Keep on changing. Be the best possible you you can be.”
M.K.- Another one I’ve written for in person, but here are some more words for you, my dear. Your smile and laughter are infectious. Keep living life as if it’s some fabulous game to play. Don’t lose that sense of wonder and joy. So many adults walk around the world as if they’re waiting to die. Keep living as if you remember what it was like to be a kid. Play. Have fun. But don’t forget to take time out and do the tough stuff, even when you don’t want to. Then you can go back to being a kid again. Think of work as the respite from all that fun. Sometimes you just have to take a break and relax, right?
K.W.- My hippy dippy flower child. We may not have always seen eye to eye on everything, especially when it comes to more political discussions. But that’s part of what makes you beautiful. You don’t take any crap from anyone, and you stand up for what you believe in. I think that that is awesome. You remember exactly who you are at all points in time, you don’t compromise if you don’t have to, and you really embody the “treat others as you want to be treated” motto. The world needs more people like you in it, but I think you recognize that, and that’s part of what makes you so passionate. Keep spreading love, light, and joy to others.
A.K.- You’ve always had that special sort of voice when it comes to your writing. Whether you choose to be a writer in the future or not, I know that your words will have meaning. Publish a book of poetry. Write for the screen. Become a teacher. A doctor. Whatever. And whatever you do, don’t hold back. Speak the truth because you know how to say it. Write the truth because you know how to write it…in the most personal, painful, and beautiful way possible. Help others to see the truth. If you do this in life, there is no way that you will not be successful. I have faith in that.
To all of you, thank you for taking a chance with me as a teacher. Thanks for not being too hard on me as I was learning to be the best possible teacher I could be. I may not have gotten it all right, but what parent ever does? I hope that I have at least taught you one thing that you can carry on with you in the future. Don’t let anyone stifle who you are. Remember that when things look bleak, there is at least one person out there who loves you exactly the way you are. I may not always like you, but I love you.
Always and Forever Yours,