Newton South High School senior Skylar Krug said that when she was much younger, she felt anxious as she rode in her parent’s car to the doctor’s office to get tested for strep throat.
But, she reassured her young self by promising that the next time she would pass the same particular spot she saw out her window, the unpleasant trip to the doctor would be over.
And as she stood in front of nearly 400 of her peers and hundreds of parents, families, friends, and teachers at the school’s graduation Thursday night, she said this moment, where every senior would receive their diploma, reminded her of fixating upon a particular point in the future.
“Well, here we are, on the car ride back from the doctor’s office,” said Krug, the senior class speaker. “This moment always been in the future, but it’s now the present.”
The graduating seniors of Newton South High School sat captivated as Krug embodied their own anxious feelings in a 10-minute long speech, some fidgeting with their cap tassels while others sat stoic, listening intently.
Krug said how she thought receiving her high school diploma would justify the countless hours she and her classmates spent studying, worrying, and stressing over school assignments.
“No matter how proud we might be for graduating, this piece of paper doesn’t tell the whole story. It doesn’t show how hard we worked,” she said. “It doesn’t show how we were tired after pulling all-nighters but still got up at 6 a.m. It doesn’t show the jokes, the worrying over dumb stuff, the friendships, the memories… all those moments behind the piece of paper that brought us to this moment.”
Krug also noted how she wrote a five-page long letter to her senior self as a freshman - something all Newton South students do - and how when she recently opened it, she saw how life has changed in three years.
Krug said that, in her freshman letter, she stressed over a history exam to be held the next day, and expressed anxious feelings over studying and classes and boys.
“As a freshman, I believed everything I thought about high school,” Krug said, adding that she thought high school was defined by social groups and cliques. “But that changed, because we no longer let groups and cliques define us. A lot can happen in 700 [school] days, and if you’re lucky, in that time frame, you can form a bond with 406 kids that makes you wish that you had another 700 left.”
As Krug declared that she now knows what is important, and that she is a better person for it, her classmates rose unanimously, cheering wholeheartedly and applauding emphatically.
“Yeah, it took four years, but now I understand it’s about the minutes you don’t count,” Krug said. “Thank you, class of 2012, for proving the freshman me wrong.”
Other Newton town and school officials also had encouraging words of wisdom to bestow upon the new graduates on Thursday night.
Newton South High School Principal Joel Stembridge read a famous Wislawa Szymborska poem, “Utopia,” describing an island while also describing key life feelings and moments.
“There never will be a time when you have it all figured out,” Stembridge said. “But what I hope you take with you from South are the tools to enjoy the journey, and the knowledge that there is no final destination. There is always a next step.”
Newton Superintendent David Fleishman encouraged the graduates to use extra time found in loose college schedules to volunteer and perform community service.
“Many will have a real opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others,” Fleishman said. “And one way to make the world’s problems seem less daunting is through service.”
Claire Sokoloff, Newton School Committee chair, said farewell not only to her graduating son Daniel Gifford, but also to the Newton public school system, as Gifford is the last of her three children to graduate from Newton South.
“The Newton public schools have been a second home to our family, and like you, we are moving on,” Sokoloff said.
And as the seniors prepare to move on to the next chapters of their life, it will be a moment that is bittersweet, Krug said.
“We have spent the last four years, 700 days, 1,028,160 minutes waiting for this moment,” Krug said. “I sit here eager to leave, yet wanting to stay. How could we not get caught up in moment where we’re breathing a sigh of relief?”