Dear Seniors: Don't worry. This isn't going to be one of those overly cliché-filled “OMG you made it” pieces. Instead, I'm going to say something that I hope you consider paying forward: Thank you.
As only the second class of graduates from Monomoy that I've covered, I've had a little longer to get to know many of you than I did members of the Class of 2016, and for that I am immensely grateful. Why? Because where the world might see a collective group of blue-capped graduates, I see strength, hope, and promise.
It's no secret that I've come to know most of you through the sports you play, but the understanding of each of you I've gained beyond the sidelines is something I will value always. My interactions with you might have started on the football field, the soccer and field hockey pitch, the high school gym, Potter's Field, Whitehouse, or along the track, but many went beyond the limitations of athletics, which proved truly awesome.
Through conversations on the sidelines, on buses and ferries en route to tournament games, or interviews celebrating college signings, as well as at practices and end-of-season banquets, I have come to understand that the students of Monomoy High, with a special nod to the Class of 2017, are some of the most multifaceted people I've met.
Not only are you history-making student athletes who won league championships and took tourney runs deeper than past Monomoy teams, but you're also talented thespians, musicians, artists, mentors, and school leaders.
For some, the journey through high school hasn't been easy, even without the added chaos of regionalization and a whole new building. Yet you persevered. You carried on in spite of obstacles and odds that worked against you, overcoming and triumphing, and in some cases proving your doubters wrong.
I've seen you handle difficult situations and controversies with dignity and sportsmanship on and off the playing surface. I've learned whose passion for basketball runs deep, and who gets downright feisty in the penalty box. I've learned why your chosen sports matter, and what your dreams are for changing the world. I am beyond excited to watch those dreams unfold.
It is no small thing to me that I've gotten to be there for so many of your successes, and even your defeats. Both have helped me see that the future is in good hands.
So, as I draw this sentimental sojourn to a close, I will add that I agree with your graduation speakers, those who encouraged you to take risks, to believe in your own value, to experience life with a sense of gratitude, and especially those who said that all you need is already within you. Whatever you choose to become, do so with enthusiasm and appreciation, and the knowledge that if you aren't satisfied with your choice, you can always try something different. Just know that along with your friends and families, that chick with the camera will be cheering you on, too.
Thanks for letting me be even a small part of your adventure.