Here it is, the last Friday of the school year. A moment both dreaded and longed for. For our seniors, this marks the last week of their high school careers. In exactly one week, they will cross the Fieldhouse floor in their caps and gowns and bid their lives as high school students goodbye.
But was high school worth it? All the games, dances, performances, classes, did they really have an impact? The song “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” by Simple Minds offers an argument in their favor.
It’s tempting to think of high school as four years of our lives full of angst and hormones and drama that does nothing but take up precious time before our entrance in the adult world. We count the days, hours, minutes until we can walk across the stage and take our diplomas and get out. High school can be projected as a kind of waiting period, where teenagers sit and learn the necessities of life before entering the real world and putting what they’ve learned to use.
I think this mentality makes it easier to write off everything you’ve done in high school as less important than what you’re about to do after you leave. Adults like to remind teenagers that their high school friendships will likely fall off after graduation and that their participation in athletics, music, theater and clubs are only important in regards to getting into college but don’t really matter in the real world. But I don’t think we should perpetuate this idea that exists in our culture that high school doesn’t carry as much weight as college or life after school, especially in regards to how formative these years are for the minds and ideas of young people.
I think “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” can be seen as a kind of plea against our culture’s desire to leave high school in the past. For those familiar with the movie “The Breakfast Club,” this is the song that plays at the very end, when Bender walks across the field, fist in air, having finally been able to overcome something in his life successfully. It’s one of my favorite songs, not only for its witty lyrics but for its groovy ‘80s pop sound. Against the background of stereotypical ‘80s synth, the singer is begging not to be forgotten, scared that everything he has done for his love will be thrown out like it meant nothing. How like the end of high school, when we are excited to leave behind these awkward years to rush boldly into adulthood.
But rushing straight into the future without any regard for the past can be detrimental. I’m not saying high school will be the best years of your life because they won’t be. They’re still awkward and cringy and full of regrets, but I don’t think we should let that overshadow all of the great things we did during our years here at SHS. We should be able to look fondly back at our years here instead of being desperate to leave them behind.
Someday I hope we can all walk out of here like Bender, with our fists held high, proud of what we’ve done and ready to carry what we’ve learned into the rest of our lives. As you make your way through the rest of your life journey and momentarily look back on your time here at SHS, “will you call my name, as you walk on by,” or will you just keep going?