This isn't goodbye

by Ellina Chulpaeff

I hate goodbyes. This column has been on my mind for the past three years and I am still unable to create a sweet and concise evaluation of how I had spent what are arguably the most formative years of my youth. Some drafts of this reflection included cheesy epigraphs attempting to summarize my high school experience, anecdotes about my favorite moments at Harvard-Westlake and extended metaphors about our high school evolution. After numerous eradicated drafts, I finally understand why I have been unable to reflect on my Harvard-Westlake experience — I was not expecting goodbye to come so fast.

Although I have spent what felt like an eternity at Harvard-Westlake, it seems like I was a newcomer here just yesterday. I still remember feeling knots in my stomach boarding East Valley 2 for the first time, my confusion with the rotating schedule, the invigorating feeling of receiving my first A, and being astonished by my classmates.

Over time, the knots went away, I mastered the schedule, and the novelty of acing daily quizzes wore off. What remains to this day is the impression my classmates have made on me.

I have spent the last four years of my life surrounded by some of the most ambitious and talented people I have ever met. Of course, sitting in English class with published writers, speaking broken Spanish with quadrilingual friends, and painting with future Fine Arts majors was intimidating. But being surrounded by this caliber of talent pushed me to strive to better myself. Although I firmly believe that my determination is internal, I’m not ready to let go of the external motivations of my friends dragging me to surprisingly informative club meetings during break or organizing creative events to fulfill my community service requirements with team mates.

How can I let go of the friends who have been there for me since the first day, smiling at me during my anxious stroll through rows of unfamiliar faces on that first time boarding the bus, dashing with me to class after confusing our free periods, and sympathizing over Ben and Jerry’s after impossible Physics tests?

I have spent the majority of my time here concentrating on college admissions, unable to appreciate the little moments taken for granted that I would later cherish. In the end, my fondest memories don’t include receiving ACT scores in the top percentile or perfecting cheers. Instead, they include power naps at friends’ houses before such exams and the time my best friend got lost attempting to find the cheer bus and could only describe her present location as “There are lots of houses here. Oh, and trees!”

I am confident that there are plenty of whimsical moments like this to follow and that I will encounter more inspirational individuals throughout my lifetime. Thus, I have made a resolution: graduation will be but a mere stepping stone into a world of new experiences that will add to our Harvard-Westlake foundation, and not goodbye. To quote Dawson’s Creek, this is the end of something simple and the beginning of everything else.

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