12 Years of Friendships


Spencer Gustafson, Sports Editor


When the discussion about writing a senior farewell began in Journalism, I had no idea how to write one. Would I talk about family, sports, teammates, teachers, or my academics? I didn’t know. But, one night at 3 AM,  while stumbling through youtube videos, I was stunned by a high school valedictorian speech. The speaker talked about his time at school and how the experience would never have been the same without true friends. That really hit home for me, as I realized I could sum up my time here through the friendships I’ve made over the last 12 years.

Obviously, in elementary school, everyone is kind of forced to be friends. The whole class was invited to every birthday party, and everyone went to the playground together after school. No one ever cared, though, because we all had fun. That’s all that mattered.

Middle school was a whole new ballgame. Big groups of friends became smaller cliques of people who had the same interests, humor, or just enjoyed each others company. Fridays were spent outside of Wendy’s, getting kicked out of Salpeno’s (it wasn’t Phil’s yet), and playing football on the turf until we couldn’t see the ball anymore. It was fun, but for me, it became difficult to hold onto many of my friendships, as I drifted through eighth grade, keeping my head down, and staying home on weekends.

In high school, I hoped to reinvent myself into a calm and collected person, who just wanted to hang out with people who wanted to hang out with me. I joined the football team in August, and I was excited to see where that would take me in the beginning of my high school career.

However, that all came to a screeching halt on the third day of school. I had been told my my eye doctor that I would need immediate surgery on my eye due to an injury that had been slowly destroying my eye over months time. As a result, I could never play football again, and I had to miss the first month of high school. My plan was completely ruined, and I was still on the lookout for some friends.

The year flew by and I was still sitting at home on weekends not knowing what to do with myself. But everything changed when baseball season came around. The field was my sanctuary, where I was most confident. Some of the other freshman on the team began talking to me and I built relationships that season that would stick with me through the rest of my time at Wantagh.

Sophomore year was the year where everything clicked for me. I finally found my friends that I would be hanging out with every weekend, but, more importantly, who I could just be myself around and have a good time with. After that, it was easier for me to become that confident kid I spent the better part of two years trying to be.

I started talking to anyone who would listen, and it felt great. I’m aware now that it came off as extremely annoying, but, it was me, and I’m not ashamed of it. No matter how annoying it was, I made even more bonds, and more friendships than I ever had in my life.

The past two years haven’t been easy for me, as I’ve lost loved ones. But I’ve gotten through it knowing that my friends were there for me. My friends have made bad days good ones, and good days even better. Also, it’s been a lot easier to get through monotonous school days with the people I care for the most.

My time here has morphed me from a quiet kid, who didn’t know how to talk to my peers, into somewhat of a social butterfly that just wants to put smiles on everyone’s faces. Now that college is just around the corner, and the cycle of making friends is going to start all over again, I’m not scared like I was when I started high school.

Obviously, I’ve learned a lot about the world in the classroom at Wantagh. But, I’ve learned a lot of lessons from all of you guys. How to work hard, how to show compassion, and, most importantly, how to stay positive about any situation life throws at me.

If you would’ve told me 12 years ago that I would have to go through everything I have to get a piece of paper at the end, I wouldn’t have made it this far. But if you told me I would go through it all to get that piece of paper, and make the friendships and connections that I have, I wouldn’t hesitate to jump right in to do it all again.

I’m going to miss everyone here, but I have no doubt we’re all going to do great things in the years to come. Thank you.