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Powerful Insight from a High School Graduate

Powerful Insight from a High School Graduate

By Emily Duvall

My high school experience embodies the saying, “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.” 

Before I tell you why this quote resonates with current graduates, let me introduce myself. My name is Emily Duvall, and I feel blessed to have the opportunity to share my thoughts and insights through this column. I grew up in Haywood County and am currently a senior at Tuscola High School. I work at the Waynesville Recreation Center and plan to attend Appalachian State University this fall. My ultimate goal is to earn a master’s degree in communication disorders and sciences to become a speech therapist, hopefully in Haywood County. I would be honored to contribute to a community that has given so much to me.

My high school experience has been valuable and something I wouldn’t trade for the world; however, it was far from ordinary. I transferred to Tuscola my sophomore year, and at the end of my junior year, we were dismissed from school due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

I can say with confidence that when we left school in March of 2020, we were ecstatic to stay home for what we thought would be a short break. As the months went on and things started to shut down, we soon realized we would miss some of our most vital memories. 

Looking back, I believe the Classes of 2020 and 2021 would give anything to regain that lost time. It’s true that you never realize what you have until it’s gone, and now, as the Class of 2021 prepares to walk and receive their diplomas, it feels bittersweet. 

To current high school students or those entering their freshman year, I say this. Enjoy every moment. Go to all the events. Relish in the pep rallies and sitting under Friday night lights. Learn the fight song, go to the rivalry games, dance at the prom, sing along at the country-western show, watch the band perform, join clubs and support your friends and teammates because one day these will be the memories you hold close to your heart. 

My cohort never realized certain events or activities would be our last. When the bell range that day in Friday afternoon in March of 2020, we assumed we would be back Monday morning. 

Everyone tells you, “Just wait until your senior year,” but don’t. Start making memories today because as the Class of 2021 has learned, you never know when time will run out. I would specifically tell incoming freshman that high school is all about finding out who you are; you’ll make new friends, switch up your style, and change your future plans a thousand times. And, that’s okay. 

As the Class of 2021 prepares to put on our caps and gowns and begin new chapters in our lices, we are excited and prepared for our future endeavors. Yet, graduation day will be heartbreaking. We will say, “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times,” as we leave behind a family we have created to pursue our dreams.

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