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Get ready to start another chapter in life

My name is Angela Gudahl, and I am a student of the graduating class of 2016. And before I start, I would just like to give a quick but important disclaimer.

Angela Gudahl's senior address drew several laughs from the 110 Pequot Lakes graduating seniors.Photo by Dan Determan
Angela Gudahl's senior address drew several laughs from the 110 Pequot Lakes graduating seniors.Photo by Dan Determan

My name is Angela Gudahl, and I am a student of the graduating class of 2016. And before I start, I would just like to give a quick but important disclaimer.

Underclassmen: In case it has not already begun, you will find that it will be instilled in you to never cite your research papers and/or public speeches from any website, unless it is .org, .edu or .gov.

That one was for you, Mrs. Klein.

However, given these dire circumstances of a plague that has affected the majority of seniors nationwide, I have made a difficult and reluctant exception. So according to urban dictionary.com, "senioritis" is defined as the following:

Noun. A crippling disease that strikes high school seniors. Common symptoms include, but are not limited to, walking profoundly slower to all or selected classes; an increase in sporadic absences, which may or may not include a breakfast at the Commander; an increased confidence in test taking skills when textbook has not been taken; counting in math class, but only if it means counting down the slides of the day's lesson; desire to test work ethic under intense pressure by choosing to write an 8-page research paper the night before it is due, even though adequate time was given during class period in the weeks prior.

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Side note: Adequate class period or open hours may or may not have included searching cooking videos or googling political memes.

Symptoms may also include one tear drop of genuine and desperate joy being shed when said 8-page research paper's due date was pushed back a day due to schedule change.

In my specific and personal experience, senioritis came in the form of trying to write a graduation speech, but instead staring at a wall for two hours, wondering why on earth did someone decide that a piece of square cardboard balancing on a swimming cap and covered in blue fabric was a good idea for a hat to graduate in?

Yep. Senioritis.

I have always thought the class speech should be one of sentimental words and endearing memories, of the good times shared in the past. So I began to try to reminisce on the beautiful days of middle school ... but I had nothing. My subconscious seemed to be blocking out memories, and I can only assume it was some sort of coping mechanism for my own personal well being.

But I did recall one phrase repeating in my head. It was Mrs. Fisher's voice. From eighth grade. "Shhhhhhh. You guys, quiet down. Your hormones are raging."

Fortunately, this lovely group of millennials standing before me all seemed to be aboard the Facebook fad as early as 2009. And so with signed permission, I thought perhaps we could dig up the heart and soul of this class via Facebook posts from our prepubescent selves.

I discovered some of us found it necessary to share our personal electrolyte intake, as Lauren Bengtson posted in 2011 for the world to see: "I drank a quart of gatorade today."­

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I also discovered many of us were in awe of the pop culture of our generation, when I read Maria Brown's Facebook status from 2011: "Why does selena have to date justin? its gross ... sorta."

I also was reminded of our growing observation of the animals of the sky, and the law of physics, when I saw Erick Marks posted in 2009: "I love it when birds hit the window! THUD."

Along with the financial sacrifices we had to make when we did not have our own summer job income yet, as Erick also proclaimed in 2009: "I feel good i just gave the salvation army .65 cents."

We also seemed to be very inquisitive thinkers, in awe of science and new discoveries. I realized this when I saw Graedon Rohr's post from 2011: "scientists have discovered a new earth like planet. I wonder if we get the technology to go to light speed, that the government would want to take the planet's resources­ - graedon 2011."

Mac Nagys post on Christmas day on Dec. 25, 2010, made me realize we also were dreamers. It stated: "this summer i had a dream the rapture would happen on december 26, 2010. let's find out if its true."

We also didn't let the dangers of the world stop us from diving into the saltwater trenches. Levi Palmer posted in 2011: "Ooowweeeee just ripped off my fingernail while swimming in the ocean ..."

But most of all, I saw on my own personal Facebook page that I was quite observant of both my sleeping cycle and my blood circulation. As I found it important to post a status saying: "goin to bed ... fingers are cold lol" ­- Angela Gudahl

But perhaps Allison said it best on behalf of our whole grade even to this day, when she posted in 2011: "I wish someone would rob my house and take my social homework with them." All joking aside, it is absolutely remarkable to see how far we have all come. And regardless of the rest, regardless of the classes we took or the grades we got in them, we are all here with the same exact goal completed.

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The antidote to our senioritis.

We did it, we are all graduating. From the bottom of my heart on behalf of this class, thank you to the teachers who encouraged us. Thank you to the teachers who put countless extra hours into helping us reach our goals. Thank you for the teachers who challenged us even when we did not want to be challenged.

Thank you for Mr. Rankin for having high expectations of us to amount to the achievements we are capable of. Thank you Mrs. Stampe for kicking cancer's butt. Thank you Mr. Guenther for who you have been to so many students. Thank you to all the faculty.

Thank you parents, for being alongside of us and equipping us with skills that will last a lifetime. Thank you for adults in the community who have mentored students and been an advocate for those of us who needed it. The paraprofessionals who have told students that they believe in them. Thank you.

Graduating class of 2016, never forget the people here who have encouraged you. Never forget the encouraging smile your peer gave you when you were having a hard day, the one encouraging text that kept you from falling apart, or the one hug that comforted you amongst whatever trial was going on in your life.

Never forget the person who told you they were proud of you, and never forget the teachers, parents, adults or friends that made this life a little bit easier to breathe in.

But most of all, never forget to be that person to someone else. There are a lot of things that we have grown out of since middle school, just look at your old Facebook posts. And I know none of us can look into the future, but there is one thing I am positive none of us will ever grow out of.

We will always be impacted by the power encouragement has on ourselves and the world around us.

If there is one thing in the world you can be, no matter your occupation, no matter your salary, no matter the circumstances in your life, be an encourager. The world may continue advancing technology, it may continue pushing you to work harder and do more and go amazing places, but despite what Devin and Dominic Cheek may invent 20 years from now, I will always argue nothing will ever compare to human empathy and encouragement.

Everyone, we did it. And we are about to start another huge chapter in our life. And it will not be easy. It will be another adventure. With both trials and goodness. In the commonly quoted, but always wise words of Dr. Seuss:

You'll be on your way up!

You'll be seeing great sights!

You'll join the high fliers

Who soar to high heights

...

You'll get mixed up, of course,

As you already know,

You'll get mixed up

With many strange birds as you go.

So be sure when you step,

Step with care and great tact.

And remember that life's

A great balancing act.

Just never forget to be dexterous and deft. And never mix up your right foot with your left.

And will you succeed?

Yes! You will, indeed!

(98 and 3⁄4 percent guaranteed.)

KID, YOU'LL MOVE MOUNTAINS!

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