A Letter to the Class of 2017 on Your Last, First Day of School

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by Camel City Dispatch

By Kristen Daukas

letter-to-my-high-school-seniorTo my high school senior,

So here we are. The moment you’ve been waiting for and the moment I, as well as many other parents, have been dreading since your first day of Kindergarten. Today is the first day of your Senior year of high school. Or as I see it – your last first day. We’ve had 13 of these in a row and I remember every single one of them… if I stretched my memory enough, I could probably remember what you wore each of those first days of school.

We’ve been through a lot these past 13 years. There have been projects galore, tears over homework – from both of us, teachers we loved and others not as much. School plays, recitals, concerts, games and fall festivals. We’ve argued over clothing choices (though not too much… we parents have to pick our battles and that wasn’t one I wanted to fight), curfew times and when I thought you were getting the short end of the stick when it came to your friends. We’ve battled bullies, technology (yes, I’m still smarter than you when it comes to that, and had endless “discussions” as to what clean means to me and what it means to you.

I know that you don’t always listen to me, but I also know that a lot of my messages get thru – even if you don’t want to admit it. So now that summer break is ending and we set our alarms back to the one that should just read “butt crack of dawn” and not “school day”, I want to offer some last words of wisdom that I hope you’ll to take to heart.

It’s Going to Fly By – If you think the past 12 years have moved fast, the next 9 months are going to be over in a blink. Right now you’re picking out your OOTD (outfit of the day for the ‘rents out there) but seemingly by tomorrow, we’ll be choosing which dress you’ll wear under your gown for graduation. Enjoy it. Don’t rush thru it. Do the things and join the clubs that you thought you’d always have time to do. And keep that attitude the rest of your life because it’s not just your senior year that will fly by – it’s life in general.

Make Wise Choices – You’re going to be faced with a lot of temptations your senior year. You are the kings and queens of the castle and you definitely rule. But these kind of attitudes come with a lot of ego and if there’s one thing about ego’s that you need to remember is that egos can get you into a lot of trouble. Think twice about going to the kegger at someone’s house whose parents are out-of-town. All it takes is one call from a neighbor and you could all be going downtown and all those hopes, dreams and goals right along with you.

You’ll Never See These People Again – This may sound pretty harsh, but it’s the sad truth. Whether you love them or hate them because they annoy you, something just changes when you cross that stage with your diploma in hand… everyone has their own agenda and try as you will, you just lose touch. It won’t happen suddenly – it’s more of a gradual thing that happens over the years. The first couple of years you’ll try to get together when you’re home from college for breaks but eventually you’ll stop coming home for every break and then you’ll get a summer job wherever you are at school and then you graduate college and move to take your first ‘real’ job. And it won’t be everyone – there WILL be some that you’ll stay friends with forever and those are the best relationships you’ll ever have. Because those are the people who, even when you get married, have kids, and go thru major life events, will always remember you as the real you. The one who existed before you became someone’s wife/partner/mother/caregiver.

Don’t Lose Your Momentum – Senioritis is a real thing but you can’t slow down just because you’re near the end. Even if you’ve gotten into the college you wanted to, they’ll still keep an eye on you and your grades and believe me – there have been situations where offers have been rescinded. I know it’s hard but keep plugging along and maybe, just maybe, when April gets here, then (and only then!!) you can ease off the gas pedal.

Watch What You’re Posting – Oh dear child… you’ve heard me preach this for years. Ever since I handed you your first smart device I’ve said to watch what you post. You even have that cute mimic face whenever I break into my speech and mantra of “once on Google, always on Google”. But now it really counts – especially if there are scholarships and collegiate sports involved. Not to mention, you’re going to start applying for internships soon as well. And as a professional who works with interns, we check. So if you’re tempted to throw out disparaging remarks about your boss or teachers or coach, don’t do it. Same with some of that colorful language you love to use. Hey I like it, too (I know where you get it from) but I save it for my offline conversations – not where I’ve built my brand and my profession.

Learn to Manage Your Money – You have a job and I’m proud of you but if you didn’t, I would encourage you to get a job and most importantly – how to manage your money. Money isn’t everything but when you’re the only one who can’t go out because you blew it all of one pair of shoes that you just HAD to have, it sucks. I know talking about and making budgets isn’t the most thrilling thing in the world, but it’s better to get a handle on it while I’m still paying most of your bills and before you’re out on your own or at college.

This is Going to Be One of the Best Years of Your Life – No, seriously – it really is. You’ll look back on your senior year years from now and remember so many things about it. When you get together with everyone at your 10th, 20th, 30th-year reunions you’ll be amazed how much you’ll laugh over it. Or cry depending on which memory you’re thinking of. You’ll remember your Senior Skip Day, Senior Picnic, Senior pictures, the day you get your first acceptance letter, the day you get your first rejection letter, who you dated and who broke your heart. Do whatever you possibly can to make great memories and don’t sweat the small stuff. Because at the end of the day, it won’t be the small stuff that matters but rather, the memories that you made.

I hope you have the best year ever and one more piece of advice – don’t laugh at me or be embarrassed when I shed a tear on both your last first day of school and your last last day of school. It’s been a long road for both of us and since you’re my “baby”, I’m allowed my moment, too. Oh and yes… I WILL take your pictures on the front porch just like I always have so don’t even try and get out of it.

All my love,

You can find more of Kristen’s work HERE at Four Hens & a Rooster.

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