June 6 is fast approaching, and somehow I am graduating.  It’s unreal. Most of us have been here six years — a third of our lives. Looking back now, it seems so long ago; sometimes I see a person I haven’t spoken to since an eighth grade English class, and how we’ve all changed! We have grown up together. We’re taller and more mature; we’re older and more sophisticated. And only now it’s struck me how much time has passed. 

When we first arrived here, we kept to our old friends; we were the “Mirman kids” or the “St. Matthew’s kids” or the “Center kids,” but pretty soon all of that melted away and were all proudly Harvard Westlake Wolverines. We identify ourselves with Harvard Westlake: we are its students and it is our school.  For me it’s become a comfortable fact, knowing that I attend this school and knowing I will the next year.  But next year is college and I feel strange about this new loss of identity.

I owe Harvard-Westlake so much. I can’t put in words how much I’ve learned and what I’ve experienced. Harvard-Westlake taught me invaluable qualities that I will carry with me for the rest of my life, such as confidence, strength and inner determination. I’ve been lucky enough to have extraordinary teachers and great friends. 

But at the same time, I feel as though my time at Harvard-Westlake is truly at a close.  I realized this only recently, now I have time to look back and reflect on my years here.
In the midst of the junior year workload, or this year’s college applications, I didn’t have a chance to take a step back and see how much I hated it.  Not every memory of this school is a happy one. In 2002 I chose this school because I knew it would be challenging and eye-opening, but six years later I know I must leave this place.

I’m tired of the never-ending competition of this school. I’m tired of fighting to be recognized and feeling bad about perfectly good grades. I’m tired of stretching myself too thin and never having enough time for things I really love.

Part of me feels sorry for my peers going to huge, competitive universities because the cutthroat atmosphere will be there too, and probably more intense. I will not be sorry to leave that part of Harvard-Westlake behind.  I can’t wait to go to the open arms of my small, liberal arts college, to the causal environment that doesn’t sacrifice academics for its laid back setting.

I will receive my diploma with mixed feelings. I’ll be nostalgic for middle school dance production, swim and water polo teams, Chronicle and all of the great people I’ve come to know. But I know that leaving this school is the best option for my peace of mind.    

Overall, for all its imperfections, at least where I am concerned, I do love this school for shaping who I am today. I will never forget my six laughter-filled, hard-working, stressful, wonderful years at Harvard-Westlake.