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Column: A revolutionary feeling - freedom

District 518

WORTHINGTON -- Parents, grandparents, teachers, students, friends, but most importantly graduates; graduates of 2010, it is an honor to you all today. For the past 12 years, we have been bonded together in this small utopia we call "woo town." We have grown together, laughed together, cried together and most importantly roamed the aisles of Wal-Mart together.

For the past few years we have been living sheltered lives -- where PK is always coming to our rescue and the hall monitors keep our building safe. We are told when we can go to the bathroom and who we can talk to while remaining under constant video surveillance. Matter of fact, the school has us so well-trained, I once went to Wal-Mart when Mr. Koller walked by; I immediately and instinctively shoved my cell phone into my pocket until I realized I wasn't even in school. Today, we will all fully realize the significance of leaving school.

The minute you walk out those doors, like me, you will have remaining "school instincts." At 8:05 a.m. every day, you will wait for a bell that will never ring. You will constantly look over your shoulder, when texting, for a para that will never come and you will find yourself missing the wonderful aroma floating from the cafeteria when it hits lunch time. The second you receive that diploma you will no longer fall under the safety net of "high school." After today you will experience something completely revolutionary: FREEDOM.

Regardless of where you go or what you do with your freedom, it is important you understand you will be facing many struggles. For one, let us pray we make it pass the year 2012, and hopefully global warming is just a myth. However, the most difficult challenge you will be faced with is finding your own true identity. No longer will you be so-and-so's brother or that crazy girl's friend. Instead you will eventually DISCOVER what you are to the world and what the world is to you.

Despite all of the challenges you will face, do not fear, for I have noticed this class has a strong sense of adaptation. For example look around this gym. Do you see? Do you see all the different races, ethnicities and languages spoken in this very building? In this very graduating class we have last names ranging from Johnson, Murillo, Phtochack, Coriolon and Mohammed Ahmed. We are literally the face of a new generation ... a new era.

We are a power house generation full of Facebook creepers, iPod huggers and multi-taskers. We are so unique and, from past experiences, I have noticed we are also unpredictable. We have a tendency to survive the worst. Not only did we survive the swine flu known as H1N1, but I noticed a pandemic amongst our class proven to be more deadly. This disease is called senioritis. Senioritis is a crippling disease that strikes high school seniors. Symptoms include: laziness, an over-excessive wearing of sweatpants, headbands, sweatshirts. Also features a lack of studying, repeated absences and a generally dismissive attitude.

At some point, each one of you has woke up in the morning and literally had to drag yourself to school this year. Today, I want to congratulate that decision because the only known cure is a phenomenon called graduation. Today we can truly say together, as an outstanding diverse class, we survived a crippling disease.

Now the purpose of this speech wasn't for me to just come up here and crack you all up with inside jokes your parents and teachers may not understand, but also to inspire you. Beyond "woo town" is world that is constantly growing. Although we are comfortable here, I encourage you to go out and explore, meet new people, pick up a different hobby, apply for an intern, pursue your passion, experience a different country, study abroad and most importantly grow. Today, I beg you to leave behind your high school mentality, realize your freedom and discover your true identity. You must realize your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Instead, own your adaptive and survival skills as you encounter your new world of freedom.

So, that's what I wish for all of you: take the initiative and learn from your mistakes. "Fall down, make a mess, break something occasionally. And remember that the story is never over." And, unless I've just tricked you into remembering, my bet is that 40 years from now you will have no idea what I just said, but you will remember the gatherings tonight.

You will remember your families being here, you will remember all the work that got you to this point and you'll remember how you felt. And, I hope you feel great, because this is a remarkable achievement. Class of 2010, congratulations and good riddance. See you on Facebook. Make it a great day or not -- the choice is yours.

Fayise Abrahim gave one of the student speeches at the May 28 Worthington High School commencement ceremony. The others will be published in this space in subsequent weeks.