Hey, how did high school end without my permission?

The thought suddenly occurred to me sometime last week that this was it; my high school career was coming to an abrupt close without my permission and there was nothing I could do about it.

I?ve been living this year as if it wasn?t actually going to be the end of anything. Yes, I?ve been counting down the days until summer vacation, but then in another three months I would be walking right back through the doors of Hillsboro High School. A fifth-year senior.

All that time planning for college, studying for the ACT and filling out applications was merely a time-filler. College was just a daydream that seemed about as realistic as the Land of Oz, yet less plausible. But then reality struck.

Smack, it said.

I had a similar collision with reality back in November, when I randomly discovered it was time for me to turn 18. I was enjoying the care-free life of a minor?poking holes in my ears and committing minor acts of vandalism to my boss? office?when Nov. 20 rolled around without warning.

?What are we going to do with you?? my mom asked when I walked up the stairs that morning.

?Try me as an adult,? I grunted as I headed to the bathroom to put in my contacts.

Smack, reality said.

But back to my more recent epiphany: I was sitting in class, staring off into space because I was acutely aware there was not enough time left in the school year for the teacher to test us over the information at hand.

My thoughts were on what time I would have to get to school the Monday after graduation so that I would have enough time to place pictures of the commencement ceremony into the next issue of the Oracle before the Monday morning deadline. I reminded myself that I would have to get a visitors? pass from the office.

Smack, reality said.

It was then that I had this thought: For the past 12 years, I have had to have a legitimate excuse in order to leave the school building. And now, after this weekend, I would need a justifiable reason for them to let me back in.

After that, my warm fuzzy High School Student for Life cocoon began unraveling.

It?s not that I?m scared to go on. In the fall, I?ll be at Tabor. That?s a five-minute walk from where I live. A shorter drive. And an even shorter flight (although I have yet to see it done). I?m not really going anywhere. Yet, at the same time I?m taking a very big trip. I will no longer be in high school. I?m getting kicked out into the real world.

I haven?t even done everything that I was planning to do! My entire senior year has passed me by without any of the fun perks a senior should get. My class didn?t plan a senior skip day. We didn?t even pull a senior prank. (Which would have been great, by the way; we were going to buy three ducks, number them ?one,? ?two? and ?four? and let them loose in the school. Then we would watch the school administrators try to find the third duck.)

I suppose I could try flunking out, but those things would be no fun without the people I?ve been stuck with for the better part of my life. Besides, it?s too late in the year to lower my grade that badly.

So here I am, writing this column with merely hours until I walk out of Hillsboro High School for the last time as a high school student. Apparently I know everything I?m supposed to know before leaving my home and venturing into the great unknown (dorm rooms).

I acutely remember back to my eighth grade year, when I was helping to clean up the prom decorations after a class dance. I was rolling up the plastic lining that served as the wall to the dance floor, and Mrs. Wienck, who remains a good friend even though she should have gotten rid of me four years ago, was telling me to make sure the plastic rolls were ?really taught.?

?I?m promoting from eighth grade,? I said. ?I hope I?m really taught by now.?

Looking back, I didn?t know anything. And this is why I feel the great responsibility, as a near high school graduate, to share my wealth of knowledge with those who have not yet reached the high school stage of their life. Here are a few things I?ve learned that they didn?t have room for in the school curricular. It may come in handy:

1. Never, ever, under any circumstances, ridicule the school?s cafeteria about the amount of times they serve similar types of food. In eighth grade I wrote a column about how many times the school served chicken, which granted me a free, one-way ticket to the principal?s office. Turns out the administrators found my column to be a little fowl.

2. Even if you?re doing a Frank Sinatra impersonation, a fake, but smoking, cigarette is not a good idea. I thought it would be a fun during a concert last year. I was wrong.

3. Enjoy your time in high school and take every opportunity you get. These last few weeks I?ve realized that there have been a lot of things that I intended to do while in high school, and didn?t.

So, whether you?re going into high school, college, the work force, retirement or a nursing home, enjoy life as it comes, but be aware of the events that are yet to occur. Because reality has a way of sneaking up and smacking you in the face. And if you?re not paying attention, it can hurt.

You oughta see my shiner.

* * *

UFO: A Boeing 747?s wingspan is longer than the Wright brother?s first flight.

Don?t ask why.

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