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Our Journey Thus Far

by Zoei Goodrich

It has been 12 long years since we first stepped foot into our school. We were about five or six years old when we entered kindergarten- for a lot of us that was the first time we met each other. Some of us started school even earlier. Most of us were strangers to each other at that point, afraid of the new world we were entering away from our homes and our families but also excited for some adventure, something new. Little did we know then of the incredible journey we would all be going on together for the next 12 years of our lives. A lot of us have been together for all of those years; however, we’ve had to say goodbye to some of our classmates and close friends along the way. Yet, we’ve welcomed in new friends over the years and couldn’t imagine our class without them. We have faced many challenges together but also many celebrations. Of our high school memories, I’ll always remember the energy that exploded in the gym with standing ovations and cheers after our team won a basketball game after an agonizing tie or close score. I’ll also remember those many “celebrations” of knowledge in Mr. Wudi’s class, where the panic would set in if the Jeopardy music began to ring out, and you weren’t finished with the test. Of the challenges we’ve faced (and there’ve been many), the final challenge of COVID-19 has been one of the greatest.

Kindergarten: the year of finger paint, peanut butter play-dough, nap times (which we despised then but came to long for later), learning to read, stone soup...I could go on and on. The rest of our elementary school days passed slowly. Some of us loved school then, some of us didn’t. Friendships were building, our learning took off...we were like sponges soaking in the world around us. I remember singing as a class to Mr. Mayer’s guitar playing, and who could forget dancing the Cupid Shuffle in fourth grade with Mr. Anderson? Fifth grade came with a lot of excitement; there were so many fun activities we were all so excited for: a kickball game against our teachers, running down the halls. For some of us, this was also around the time where our volleyball and basketball careers first started.

Then, we began the dreaded middle school years. Some of us, myself included, were excited, but also afraid of getting lost (even though we were told multiple times it was a building that was literally a square.) Those years were hard; we hadn’t yet clicked as a class and the homework amount seemed daunting. However, for me personally and I’m sure for others as well, those are the years where the world seemed to open up and grow so much bigger, and that was a beautiful thing.

Then we entered high school- the beginning of our last four years until graduation. During our high school years, it’s been amazing to see everyone from our class find their own niche. Whether it was sports, art, mechanics, music, etc., everyone had their own interests and passions that they pursued. New friendships were built, new memories made, and we settled in for what was to be the last few years before gaining the status of Rib Lake High School alumni.

High school has been quite the ride, and our class has been through a lot together- both the good and the bad. There have been proms, fiestas, homecomings, band and choir concerts, overtimes, and so many other activities. There is so much to look back on- so much to remember. For me personally, I will never forget the last few moments of the very last cross country race I ran. I could see the finish line ahead, but it was an uphill battle. About 200 yards or so from the finish, huge white flakes were tumbling so thickly from the sky I could hardly see where I was going. What’s crazy is that the only time it snowed throughout the whole day was in those precious last minutes of the race.

Life is a lot like running a long distance race. You must pace yourself. There are a lot of hills to climb, yet there’s also flat fields to run across. It can rain, snow, storm, and shine- yet on you run. Then, your foot will somehow find that deep crevice hidden in the grass, and before you know it, you’re sprawled on the ground. But you get up, and you keep on running, because that’s just what you do. The end of our senior year was a finish line. For our class, those last few moments of the race represent the last few months of our senior year. It was a battle to the finish- uphill all the way, it seemed. The snow had tumbled down, blurring our vision and making it hard to see the finish line. Yet in even the hard times, we had to remember where we were headed and stay the course as we had done until that point, even though things hadn’t gone how we had planned. In fact, it took going through those hard moments to help us feel truly alive. On we ran through the difficulties, and we crossed that finish line. We made it. The last few months that we lost do not take away from the journey thus far we have made together. We still have all of those precious times to reflect upon. We have stayed the course, ran our race, and finished. Class of 2020, it’s sad that our paths are splitting after all this time of “running” together, but thank you so much for all of the memories. I know that you all have the potential to do great things. Hard times will come, but push through those hard times. When you fall, choose to get back up and keep running. Sometimes all you’ll be able to do is walk instead of run, and that’s okay. Don’t get discouraged, just keep on moving, one step at a time as you continue on your journey.