As prom and graduation season approaches, this is a time when students, and their parents, celebrate their accomplishments. The following was written by a graduating senior of Mercer Island High School. It reminds parents that, while their children are graduating and entering adulthood, they still need your encouragement and reminders about why it is so important to keep making healthy decisions.
By Sarah Stewart
As the end of our senior year in high school approaches, I have noticed a different kind of buzz in the air. Suddenly getting the mail becomes more than a chore, and cheering at sports games – varsity or not – is extremely important. The sun comes out and flowers bloom as our senioritis flourishes.
Words like second-semester and fourth-quarter paired with senior have never sounded more valid as an excuse for almost any behavior. Facebook is littered with positivity and people proclaiming their future homes: colleges, universities, jobs and gap years of adventure.
What we call “promposals” are happening every day, and despite all of the drama, people are excited. Everything seems a little bit easier… especially not opening your backpack all weekend. However, mixed into the good energy is a palpable fear. The fear of being rescinded from your dream school, the fear of dropping grades, the fear of final exams, and not being allowed to be a part of graduation.
This time of year is filled with simultaneous firsts and lasts. These next few weeks are ones to take advantage of, and that is why I am staying sober. Prom and graduation are nights to be remembered, not nights to be wasted. As the school year winds to a close and the celebration begins, remind yourself that the majority of seniors don’t drink and don’t use drugs.
Sure, there will always be the isolated group that chooses to drink before prom or that shows up high on the last day of school, but that is not the norm. Most people find ways to celebrate and unwind after 4 long years of high school that don’t involve substances. You can, too.
Surround yourself with friends who are staying sober then “sober-party” it up whenever possible. You deserve to celebrate! Go for a swim, drink soda, have a bonfire, eat as many donuts as you can, slick your hair back or put on your favorite dress, and throw your graduation caps as high as possible. Enjoy the end of high school, and enjoy it when you are really yourself: sober.
Take a moment and remember opening your college acceptance letter. I remember deciding where I am headed next fall. I remember the butterflies and excitement. I remember the four years of working hard in high school. I know choosing to use drugs and alcohol can take all of that away from me.
If I were caught using substances, I may be suspended, unable to attend prom, and not allowed to participate in graduation. So, it is clear: the risk far outweighs the appeal. This is a time in our lives of endless opportunity. With great opportunity comes great responsibility. Stay excited, keep buzzing with anxious energy, but don’t ever stop working hard and remembering what it took to get you here. You are so close to the end. Celebrate sober!
Congratulations class of 2016!
Sarah Stewart is a graduating senior of Mercer Island High School. She is the founding member of the school’s Super Awesome Fun Events Club (S.A.F.E.) and is an outspoken advocate on substance abuse prevention issues.