A Bitter-Sweet Farewell to High School

Julles Marquez, Editor-In-Chief

Over the course of my academic career, I have learned about the bitter-sweet implications that come from terminal farewells.

The times that you must say goodbye to the things you once knew, the things you once loved, are the most heart-wrenching things to say goodbye to. Now that I’m a senior, this has become more relevant than ever. If you ask Kay Landon, the Haystack’s adviser and the woman who gave me strength during the times when I needed it the most, she’ll tell you that I was dreading this.

For the past week, I had been beating my brain to a pulp in a poor attempt to write my senior goodbye. Every time I tried to muster enough courage to write it, my brain would turn into a melting pot of distraction, avoidance, and dismalness. Every night, I would toss and turn in my bed, trying to think of what I would say. Although I would like to say that I, genuinely, can’t write this, I know I can; I just don’t want to. 

I asked myself why, and I’ve deduced that I don’t want to because it means I have to say goodbye to all the things that I’ve gotten used to for the last four years. Not to mention, I have to say goodbye to the place that was my second home; a place where I spent almost half of my time studying, screwing around, and making memories. The truth is, I don’t want to say goodbye.

However, I recognize that in order to grow as a person and in order to get the closure I need, I must say goodbye. So, with that, I’m going to reflect on the time I spent as a student at Wheat Ridge High School and my time as an editor on the Haystack staff. As if this goodbye couldn’t get anymore cliche.

As a freshman, I had no direction. I didn’t know what I wanted to do for the rest of my academic career, and I felt lost. I spent the first semester of my freshman year hopelessly moping around, attempting to blend into the beige-white walls. I reckoned that if I could stay unnoticed, my time at Wheat Ridge would go faster and I wouldn’t have to endure the everlasting moments of pure loneliness. When I look back at my debilitating teenage angst and social phobia, it makes me chuckle. I always wonder what it would be like for my present self to meet my freshman self, and I wonder if both versions of myself would get along.

Thankfully, though, Lisa Lee, one of the GT instructors at Wheat Ridge, took me under her wing at the homecoming dance. She recognized me from the GT program at one of my previous middle schools and instantly knew that if I didn’t join GT, I would make one of the biggest mistakes of my high school experience. The GT program was a place of social, emotional, and academic support and I’m grateful for Ms. Lee and Mr. Holm.

I joined the Haystack when I was a sophomore, thanks to my former teacher and friend Caroline Hastings. If it weren’t for her encouragement, I wouldn’t have joined the staff, and I wouldn’t have met Ms. Landon, which would be one of my biggest regrets. Although I finally found something that I could be involved in, I still found that I was living my life in passive acquiescence. 

I let some of my “friends” manipulate me into a state of submission, and I was even more terrified to assert myself. Eventually, near the end of that school year, I decided that I didn’t want to be a doormat to those people anymore and I felt liberated. I lost some of my “friends” that year, but I also found some parts of myself that I desperately needed to find. I think that was the year I finally started to respect my personal boundaries.

Junior year was a tough year for a variety of different reasons, those reasons pertaining to my individual health. Although I began to take my rigorous coursework more seriously, I experienced deep emotional hardship. Not to mention, I experienced a few heartbreaks that changed the way I viewed certain people in my academic environment. Regardless of those things, I became more aware of my own passions and what I wanted to pursue in my future. I also made life-long bonds with some of my teachers and friends.

Now that I’m a senior, I can say that this was the most difficult, the most overwhelming, but the most memorable year of my life thus far. I lost friends and teachers, from death, chance, and circumstance, but I also made a plethora of new friends, all people that I cherish, admire, and love deeply. I adopted a leadership role as the Editor-In-Chief of the Haystack and challenged myself to be more social with other staff members. I knew that in order to be a leader, I needed to have initiative and I needed to have courage to speak up.

I challenged myself to take on more responsibilities than I thought I was capable of, but it paid off in the end. I was accepted into eight different colleges, I was accepted into the La Raza Youth Leadership program, and a whole other set of accomplishments that have made me a stronger and more successful person. If it weren’t for the amazing teachers in my life, the amazing friends in my life, and the amazing family members in my life, I wouldn’t be where I am now and I will always be thankful for their contributions to my development as a person.

To my fellow seniors, although the way that this year ended was unfortunate, painful, and abrupt, we have so many more opportunities waiting for us in the future and we mustn’t fret over this, seemingly, tremendous obstacle in our lives. I hope to see you all at graduation, genuine smiles plastered over your faces, the relief of high school ending evident on your countenances.

There’s not much else I can say besides the fact that we all have our problems, our vices, and our tribulations, but it’s our choices that make us who we are. Goodbyes are hard; I know that for sure, but I know that after a goodbye comes a hello and after a hello comes a goodbye. It’s a part of life that we must accept despite the bitter-sweet implications, and it’s something I’m still actively trying to accept. Thank you, everyone for reading this. And to the class of 2020, congratulations. We made it.