These moments cannot be replaced

May. 25, 2014 @ 08:44 AM

Months before my graduation from Western Carolina University I was already counting down the weeks to crossing the stage and taking my empty diploma holder out of Chancellor David Belcher’s hand. Week after week, I wiped down my little chalkboard and wrote in the new number of how much time was left. I’d even snap a photo to display on Facebook and remind everyone else how I was already out the door mentally when it came to my schooling.

What a major regret! Why did I spend all that time wishing away the last moments of my undergraduate career?

Since starting my job at the News-Topic, I have come to appreciate the events I get to cover in the classrooms of Caldwell County Schools and Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute. In fact, there was one day I attended a speech-and-debate class at Hibriten High School. After interviewing students about their recent trip to Raleigh, I actually begged the teacher to let me stay and listen to their presentations just so I could sit behind a school desk for a little bit longer.

Now, I don’t miss the homework. What I miss is attending lectures, soaking in new concepts, holding discussions with my peers and falling in love with new interests.

As I cover the various graduation ceremonies of CCC&TI and Caldwell County Schools, I can’t help but remember my own trepidations and concerns at my graduation. The next day, I was no longer a student, and I did not know who I identified as anymore.

For the high school seniors awaiting their graduation on June 12, I charge you all to appreciate your last moments as a high school student. The past few years have shaped you and have prepared you for the next steps of your lives. Don’t count down the days like I did. Instead, embrace what time you have left, because you can never go back to high school once you have that diploma in hand. And while I can one day return to school, which I hope to do, it will never be close to the undergraduate experience I will forever cherish, because you can always go back in the literal sense of the phrase, but you cannot recreate the feelings and essence of who you are in the moment today.