My Advice to High School Graduating Seniors

I have been feeling nostalgic. Last year I wanted to post a blog with my paper “Wendy’s Advice to Her Fellow High School Graduates” but never did.  I see I wrote it for Mrs. Buice.  I had her third period according to the paper, and it was due on May 18, 1992.  She was my senior English teacher at Brookwood High School.  We learned about all kinds of grammar, but what I remember most is learning about Dante’s Inferno and Shakespeare.  I could go on and on about the Inferno, but it was in her class that I found my favorite Shakespeare poem:  Sonnet 116.  I had to memorize it and write it for a quiz grade.  I remember cramming in biology class trying to get it all committed to my brain, but procrastination doesn’t always produce the best work.

Mrs. Buice is one of my top three favorite teachers ever. My #1 best/favorite teacher was Mrs. Adcock from third grade at Monroe Elementary School.  We learned so many important things that year:  multiplication tables, cursive writing, about the clouds, California Condors, Mt. St. Helens (and how to make a volcano using a chemical reaction), we had a trip to the courthouse to learn about the legal system, and we learned about Sally Ride from our English books (I wanted to be an astronaut or a teacher back then).

My 2nd favorite teacher is Mrs. Roberts also from Brookwood.  Partly because I had her for four semesters: all of American and European Histories.  I liked Social Studies all throughout school, but History is what I ended up majoring in when I attended college. I received a full academic scholarship to West Georgia College. They changed their name to State University of West Georgia the month we graduated, so my class received two diplomas.  Now, they are known as the University of West Georgia.  I have a third diploma with that name too!  I am proud to say I graduated Magna Cum Laude and probably would have finished Suma Cum Laude if I had finished my last two classes on my double major Education degree.

I went back to school (at the University of Georgia) for a Masters’ Degree in Secondary Social Science Education, but when I got to student teaching, I got scared and backed out.  By the time I wanted to complete my degree, I no longer lived in Athens and I didn’t have money or a way to go back then my credits expired.

The desire to teach never left me, and when I was 38, I finally had enough self-confidence to actually make that dream a reality.  I was both an excellent and a terrible teacher.  I wonder if any of my students will ever remember me as their favorite or best.  For many reasons, I am no longer an educator. However, I know those seeds I planted are percolating.   I wonder what kind of vine my students will produce and how and when they will bloom.

So, my first set of 8th graders whom I taught at church graduate this year.  My assignment I referred to at the beginning of this blog was to give “Advice to Any Group (cover subject)”.  That was written on the back of a handout–Mark Twain’s “Advice to Youth”. So, on the front page of my typed paper, I have hand written: “BEWARE. Literary License in Use.”

I received a 90 for content and an 80 for mechanics (because I had a comma splice). Mrs. Buice’s comments are: “You’re an interesting girl!  You’ve a fine mind—you’re inquiring and you hold on to your opinions.” She also wrote “Oh, I’m feeling faint” and “Right”.  I’ll let you figure out where.

Wendy’s Advice to Her Fellow High School Graduates:

That night you’ve all been waiting for is finally here! Get naked and streak across the green at Stone Mountain. Ride through the streets of town shouting obscenities.  Drop your pants on stage when receiving your diplomas.  Stay up all night; drink beer; smoke pot!  When all that childish play is done, you must settle down to reality.  You, (Yes, you!) are an adult and must act like one.

To look like an adult it is always nice to find a job.  Whether you work, or not, really doesn’t matter. Call in sick every so often when you want to soak up some rays, but spread those days out.  You don’t want to get fired!  Keep the job for appearance’s sake.  Make the maw and paw happy.  When summer’s over and you’ve made a little dough, it’ll be time to do the college thing. Try not to spend all your money the first month, though.  If the professor takes attendance go to class, but don’t worry about attending if he/she doesn’t. Do study for tests.  Write all papers the night before they’re due, not the morning of!  Have fun, but for crying out loud, practice safe sex! Finally, don’t fail out of college unless you want to join the working class full-time.

On a more serious note: graduation is a time to be proud. You should be proud of yourself. Your family is gonna be proud of you too—it’s a given.  Send out those invitations so the money will start rolling in. Don’t spend all of it on booze; put a little in the bank. When accepting your diploma, hold your head high, and if you’re bold enough, I still maintain that it’s all right to drop your pants.

About the summer job—brown nose a little to make up for the days you call in sick.  Try to think about the future.  Make enough money so the funds will last two months of college instead of just the one.

I don’t want to lead my dear old classmates astray, so I’ll change my tune a little.  Listen closely: life is short; party hard and make the most of it.  Do what you will; why listen to someone else? (Including me with my infinite wisdom.) Remember the man upstairs, because you’ll have to answer for your actions someday.

EPILOGUE

The preceding was written to dissuade (by showing the ridiculousness of) the wildness and “I don’t give a S*!T attitude” displayed by most of America’s youth upon graduating.  Party within reason and remember moderation is the key to ‘most anything’ you do. Guarantee you will keep a life worth living and enjoying, and that you will be there to see all your buds come reunion time!