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I’ve been trying to convey a message that would encompass all hierarchical tiers but the reality is it’s impossible. We all come from different backgrounds with different life stories. Some of you ride a moped to school, others walk, and a great deal drive cars filled with gas, courtesy of your parents. Your life is about to take a radical change. And I say, change is good!

Look at our school! Do you think we would have received our excellent education if our school board and educators had not been willing to explore new methods of teaching and a willingness to embrace new ideas? Not all changes are for the better. However, lacking the courage to try these changes is for the worse. I for one am not afraid of change. If you doubt this, think about how many different colors my hair has been this year. 

Some of you already have your life planned out. You’re going to college, get your four-year degree and upon graduation, land your dream job. Then you’re going to meet a smoking hot red head, get married and have 2.6 children. What a blissful existence. If only life was the “Leave it to Beaver” show. Unfortunately, the rest of us are going to experience heartache, devastating losses, tragedies, disappointments, and medical dilemmas. My Papa Lloyd constantly annoys me with his advice. He says “you don’t always have control over what life hands to you but you do have control over how you respond.” That means if your best friend steals your boyfriend, you have a choice between pulling her hair out and praying she gets hit by a bus or you can just walk away. If you try something and you fail, it doesn’t make you a loser. Look at the Senior Boys Dance Line. 

There are some things, however, that should never change. Private conversations should always remain private. Your hemline should always be below your fingertips, ladies. Right Sarah Dewey? And avoid wearing hats in public. They tend to be very distracting.

Sometimes change occurs whether you want it to or not. And sometimes thing never change, even when we want them to. My Papa keeps wishing I’ll change and keep my room clean. The odds are slim. But he has hope, as we all should. Don’t leave ... with your shoulders stooped. A lot of us have been labeled, pigeon-holed, categorized and placed in a pecking order. When you leave, you leave it all behind.

Graduation not only represents an accomplishment of 13 agonizing years of education, but also represents the beginning of the next phase of your life. For some of you, unfortunately, this is as good as it’s going to get. As for myself, and I hope the rest of you, I will keep an open mind, an open heart, and an open dialogue with others and a willingness to face change, with all its good and bad, in order to develop integrity and character. And we all know I’m a character! So live out your wildest dreams, take the bull by the horn, when you get lemons, you make that lemonade, and above all, don’t forget how to laugh. And remember Class of 2011, love, peace, crump it like it’s hot! (This used to be my sign off for the “Forestview News” in eighth grade.)

ALICIA McDONALD is a member of the Brainerd High School class of 2011.