All across Tucson, students are preparing themselves for one of life’s great rituals. High school graduation marks not only the end of a more than 12 years of education. It’s also the symbolic end of adolescence and the beginning of adult life.
It is the last great gasp of thousands of friendships, a final celebration of all the high points and the struggles endured over four highly transformative years.
It is an occasion both joyous and bittersweet, and a virtually universal experience in American life. In my case, however, the experiences leading up to it have been somewhat out of the ordinary.
First, I go to BASIS Tucson, and my graduating class will consist of 18 students, rather than the hundreds that will be collecting diplomas at, say, Tucson High School or Catalina Foothills.
I have quite literally grown up with these same 18 people, and, while I am, of course, closer to some than to others, it will be impossible not to be bombarded by memories of each and every one of them when I see them that night.
Second, I have had rather an atypical senior year. At BASIS, students spend the last third of their senior year at an internship. From early February until a few days ago I was across the country from my friends and classmates, interning for Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) in Washington, D.C.
I had an absolutely terrific time there and do not regret my decision to go. However, doing so came at the cost of losing a great deal of time that I could have spent with my friends, and I am now faced with the rather odd scenario of returning for a few weeks, seeing my compatriots for the first time in months, and then graduating.
I will, of course, see many of them during the summer, but in some cases it is possible that graduation may be the last time for a long while that I will be in the same room with these people, these friends who have helped me become who I am today.
Despite these differences, however, my emotions will be familiar to my peers across the city, as well as to anyone who has ever undergone this rite of passage.
Whether their graduating class is 18 or 1,800, any student facing graduation will be confronted by an onslaught of memories and the faces of many friends they will be sorely sad to leave.
I had thought that being away for three months would make leaving for good easier, that somehow I would be acclimated and adjusted, that once again departing my school and preparing to travel to the East Coast would be something now familiar.
Instead, I find that being away merely reminded me of how remarkable a group I have been privileged to be a part of, and how sorry I will be to leave it.
Colin Killick is a senior at Basis Tucson High School. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
TUCSON CITIZEN TEEN COLUMNISTS LOOK BACK ON THEIR HS YEARS