Dear Seniors of 2015,
I need to make a tiny confession. You were already winners before the contest began, and you’ll continue to be winners long after it’s over.
I need to make another confession: I’ve been manipulating you to think that I am “The Keeper of the Words.” And yet, I struggle too–just like you–when faced with a prompt. And today, the cursor blinks patronizingly as I try to answer the prompt instructing me that somehow I must “Say Goodbye.”
I’m older than you, and by extension “wiser,” and I’ve got your captive attention for probably eight more seconds, so allow me a moment to share the thesis that you, your wisdom, and the time we have shared together has helped me to articulate.
Throughout her yearlong crusade to teach the 2015 Timpview AP Literature Students, Sierra Penrod purports that, though the rules are made up and the points don’t matter, kindness PLUS literature will create Meaning of the Work As A Whole.
The Rules Are Made Up—Not God’s Rules I suppose (If you’re into that sort of thing), nor your university’s rules but Society’s Rules, Penrod’s rules, High School’s Rules—they’re made up. So toe a line a little. Don’t contemplate the peach, sink your incisors into one. Forget about a napkin; lick the juice off your hands. Let yourself explore your tomorrow by feeling every corner of the room, even the corners marked off with red tape.
And finally, can I leave you with a last piece of wisdom before you depart into the quote unquote real world?
Spend some time getting lost in a fictional one. I think you owe it to yourselves, and your humanity to keep exploring, keep challenging, keep thinking, keep growing, and as such, keep reading.
So now I will phrase my conclusion and articulate a “So What?” for the year. Today, I call you my friends, because you’re not my students anymore. I have loved your victories, and appreciated the growth that has come from watching your trials. I have loved watching you learn and grow. I’ve loved watching you explore your humanity. I love being your teacher. And if you learned nothing else from reading this essay, then here is my Slightly Plagiarized Thesis Statement: Go forth, graduate, and disturb the universe a little.