"For Four Years at Fairmont"           

Dave Gustafson, 1998

       I’ve attended Kettering Schools for thirteen years now, and I’ve witnessed you, my classmates, in quite a
variety of clothing - football jerseys, cheerleading outfits, and - during spirit week - football players wearing cheerleading outfits. But now, we’ve all come together for the last time as a class, sporting gowns and mortarboards for graduation. Remember how many times we’ve daydreamed about this moment in the middle of class? We sometimes drift off during lectures, fantasizing about how we would spend our days if life were an eternal summer weekend… and that’s usually when the teacher brings us back to reality with an authoritative - ahem - clearing of the throat accompanied by a smug inquiry about the electron configurations of the noble gasses. Thanks, Mr. McManus. Well, everyone, this daydream is just now becoming a new and fascinating reality. But before we shred, burn, and flush our swipe-in cards down the toilet - don’t laugh, I know you’ll do it too - we should remember what we’re actually leaving behind.

     It’s true that throughout our collective education experience, we’ve been worked like dogs with assignments, made busy as bees with extracurriculars, and packed like sardines in the hallways. But aside from the occasional tediousness of everyday life at the Fairmont Zoo, we’ve had a pretty good time. For most of us, high school hasn’t been lived in seven periods a day - it’s been the time spent after the halls have cleared and bells no longer cut our days into fifty-minute intervals. Time spent with teachers, coaches, and other students, building an athletic team or a music program out of sheer pride for our school. I remember officer meetings for the marching band that began with the ring of the 3:15 bell and could sometimes last until past 10 o’clock at night. Afterwards, the officers would perhaps split a few pizzas and a great bit of lively conversation. Each night after our eyelids grew heavy and the banter settled to a sleepy murmur, I arrived and collapsed at home, exhausted from a day of work well done and time well spent. Was my homework done that night? Far be it from me to trivialize the importance of academics in high school, but I’m quite sure that that’s not what I remember.

     Much like these late-night band meetings, what we’ve accomplished over our brief years at Fairmont cannot all be measured by a grade point average, it cannot be entirely conveyed with a transcript, and it cannot be summarized in a diploma - career passport or not. For in addition to our quality education from the classroom,we’ve received an education in life from each other. Solid, irreplaceable friendships with our peers and, yes, even with our teachers and coaches have been forged through hard work, devotion, good times and bad, and most importantly, pride for a school that we should all be grateful to call our alma mater.

     We may be receiving diplomas tonight, fellow classmates, but look around you at your teachers, coaches and friends, and realize what you’ve truly earned for four years at Fairmont.