Goodbye Seniors….and Welcome to a New Challenge!
The crowd poured into the theater through the great glass doors that shone and glittered in the sun. There were a mass of ladies and gentlemen dressed in their best and finest, as if they were going to a ball.
The ladies and the gentlemen smiled as if they wouldn’t change places with an angel. Some people held flower bouquets (there were roses and lilies and sunflowers, all wrapped up in pretty paper) while their eyes shone with happiness. For these people had not come to attend a ball, but a more important occasion. They had driven to the Shanghai Grand Theater on May 30th to share a joy; they were here to watch a child, a friend, or a pupil be part of a ceremony that marked their entrance into the world, and their exit from another one.
Yet even though the crowd glittered with joy, the tiniest portions of their hearts were tainted with regret. For though they cheerfully drove here to watch a friend, a child, or a student, in the backs of their minds there was that little thought which tells you that your friend (or child, or student) will be leaving—and perhaps you will never see them again.
I walked in quietly. I was part of that joyful crowd, and I could think of nothing but my dear senior friends who were leaving me forever. Will I ever see them again? Will they visit our school? Will they be different when they become alumni in two hours? Will I be scared of our alumni as I was scared of the Class of 2009 in 9th grade? Why did they have to go? Why couldn’t time freeze in such a way as to keep things as they are?
The same questions haunted me when I walked around the lobby, when I chatted excitedly with friends. I grabbed a program, I went to the bathroom, I drank water, I ate—I did all those things, but the questions and the thoughts buzzed in my ear until the sound grew louder and louder, until I wondered why I even bothered to come. I regretted coming to Graduation because, when this ceremony ends, it will mean goodbye for me and the seniors! Oh what was I thinking? How could I have been so cheerful this morning? How could I have been so excited?
I walked around moodily. I walked up the stairs, then down the stairs. It seemed my lightheartedness that I had when I first entered the theater had been lost. Then suddenly, as I was thinking these gloomy thoughts people wearing beautiful black robes emerged from a brown door. It was our SAS graduating class! They were in a line, marching towards the stairs where a camera man stood. When they reached the stairs, the students stopped and lined up. I watched them sail gracefully to the stairs one by one, (looking their best because they were smiling) then the man held up his camera and took pictures of each and every one of them.
Everyone was watching. I was, too. Some of the seniors were crying, some were laughing, and some were calm. But I realized suddenly that they too were happy and sad, like the crowd of parents and friends waiting to enter the theater. They were happy because they were leaving High School and entering new lives; they were sad as well because after years of being together each student will now say goodbye to their friends and walk their own path in the world.
When it was time to be seated, the crowd streamed past the ticket-collectors like a torrent of rainwater. I was part of this crowd when I walked up to the balcony. The music started, the people on the second floor looked down, and the next thing we saw were teachers in blue silk robes walking into the theater through a door. The seniors followed in their funny hats. It was truly a lovely sight.
Parents sighed with happiness; their eyes shone with pride, and we all clapped our congratulations. But again, the little bit of heaviness weighed in our hearts, and we shared this emotion like we shared our joy.
Mr. Knobloch made his welcome speech. The senior slideshow was shown and we all exclaimed and laughed over the baby photos. The Valedictorian (Helen Chu, ’09) and Co-Salutatorians (Da Eun Jill Seong and Alice Su, ’09) spoke and we cried over their speeches. Vikram Kulkarni (Student Speaker) stood at the podium and made us laugh with his funny stories. Then we watched Mr. Mikkelson praise the Class of 2009 and felt admiration in our hearts, because our graduating class brought Shanghai American School honor and pride; our graduating class had changed from being cute little babies (as shown in the senior slideshow!) to being beautiful, kind, and wonderful people. We knew then that there was no reason to feel sadness, but only joy. Although our friends were leaving us, they were in the prime of life. They were young and they were mature, and they were ready to leave their mother’s nests to fly into the world—to fly into a series of adventures. We were happy for them.
Today, our seniors are an example to all at SAS High School. And it’s not just because many of them got into great colleges; part of it was also showing how one can share. Throughout their years, our 2009 seniors helped us look for classrooms on our first day of school, gave us advice on teachers and courses, worked on activities with us, and arranged our fantastic Winter Formal. Through the years, our Class of 2009 helped us through High School. We had been following in their footsteps since our own beginning; we had taken their words of advice and counseling, we had followed under their leadership—so what were we without them? What would it have been like without our dear old friends? We are walking through High School with their help. And up to now when it’s time to say goodbye, the seniors have showed us that we are to continue following in their footsteps and give the upcoming classes the same attention, patience, and assistance. Our Class of 2009 has started a tradition of helping each other and making a better school community. From now on, the grades will interact with each other; the upperclassmen will lead the lower classes, and we will be friends.
So we want to say, thank you seniors! Thank you, our dear, kind, mentors and our good friends. We wish you luck wherever you go; we wish you success and give you our blessing. We know that whatever land you set foot on, you’ll spread your song of kindness and happiness throughout the community, and you will show others what you have shown us. We’ve learnt from you how to sing a similar song, too. We know that whatever hardship and difficulties you may face, you will win through; we want you to understand too that when there are times where you must stand strong, the underclassmen whom you’ve helped at Shanghai American School will always be here to cheer you on.
Although now we have to say goodbye we’ll always remember each other, because we shared so many memories at Shanghai American School. As you walk one by one on the stage to receive your High School diplomas, the people who are watching you are saying a prayer in their hearts; we are wishing you luck, and we are also wishing that someday we might meet each other again.
Good luck, seniors in your new challenges. With lots of love from all of us at SAS High School.
By Yu-Chen (Anita) Wu