So here we are at the end of it. I’ll admit I have mixed emotions. The biggest one is probably relief, to be honest.

We made it, we’re done, and after tonight the only "graduation" related thing we have to worry about is our parties.

But there is some sadness mixed in, too. It’s over. No more cheering in the student section wearing ridiculous outfits. No more shouting across the commons. No more homecoming or Snow Days. No longer are we students of Pequot Lakes High School. That’s a sad thought, and a scary thought too.

Life gets a lot more ... everything after this. They’re taking off our training wheels, so hopefully we know how to ride the bike. But under the relief, the sadness and the fear.

There’s pride too. We made it! We’re done! We graduated high school, and that’s an accomplishment to be proud of.

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Through our last days, I decided to hold on to my high school habits. The writing process of this speech is reflective of that. The morning before graduation speaker auditions, I wrote a couple of bullet points in my notes with the gist of what I would say. That was at the end of April.

Then I decided I’d wait a little bit to work on the rest of it. And then a little longer. And so there I was on Wednesday morning, in my pajamas, unable to find the notes that I had made a month earlier, typing up the speech that was due to Mr. Nelson in less than two hours.

I’d be embarrassed about my irresponsibility with time if I didn’t know that every one of us here has done the exact same thing at least once.

Beyond our collective teenage procrastination, each of our high school careers differed quite a bit. Some of us were in sports. Others of us attended every single band event there was. Some people chose not to be involved in anything.

No matter where you fall on that spectrum, it’s OK. It doesn’t matter what activities you were in in high school. When it comes down to it, high school is simply a small blip in our lives.

But that doesn’t mean we didn’t get anything out of it. Maybe you’ll never need to use the quadratic formula again, or balance a chemical equation, or be able to discuss literary elements of "Romeo and Juliet."

"Thank you, class of 2021, for the lessons we’ve all learned together, the memories we’ve made, and the killer 'grad' parties we get to attend."

— Megan Buffington, Pequot Lakes High senior

But in high school, you began to learn who you were. In the classroom and outside of it, you were given an opportunity to find out what interests you and what is important to you.

I hope you used this opportunity. If you stick to your values and keep the things that matter most close, life won’t necessarily be easy, but it will be a lot more simple.

We all feel a little different right now and have done different things these last four years. We’re all going to different places in the days to come, but right now, for the last time, here we all are in one place together.

So let’s use this time to reflect. Remember the lessons you learned, and apply them to your life.

Remember what excites and intrigues you, and keep doing it every day.

Remember the mistakes you made, and strive not to make them again.

Remember who was most important to you, and keep them close.

Remember these last four years.

Thank you, class of 2021, for the lessons we’ve all learned together, the memories we’ve made, and the killer “grad” parties we get to attend.

Megan Buffington is a Pequot Lakes High School graduating senior.