Did you know that great big high school that you are graduating from in a few days was once just an idea some of us kept talking and arguing about? Next, that idea became a sentence next to a box on a ballot that asked the voters to raise their own taxes.
All that was way before hundreds of blueprints were drawn up and a bunch of burly men showed up to build the campus.
We know that story isn’t very interesting compared to the wonderful stories you and your friends are telling about your adventure at Liberty Hill High School, but we hope you will take a quiet moment between now and June 6 to think about it.
While you take that few minutes to pause before you leave us and head down that exciting path that most of us will never see you complete, think about the folks who gambled on your future.
Your parents, beaming with pride and sniffling with the bitter sweetness. Nobody will ever love you more than those who took you from nothing and gave you all they had, believing against the odds that you would survive, learn and turn into the great human being you are right now. In your mind, think about your grandparents, your siblings, your extended la familia. You have so many invested so deeply in you — and you’re just getting started.
As you ponder at this suddenly lengthening list of those who invested in you, you might want to close your eyes and think about that first day of school.
Put on that tiny backpack again and trudge those halls in those tiny shoes. Look up at the faces of those who had to balance being a professional educator and actually taking you into their arms and heart to heal your fears and keep moving you toward this excellent human you have become.
Keep walking forward, new intermediate school student, scared out of your wits but standing a little taller and some days wishing you could go back to elementary. Keep thinking of the clumsy look of your handwriting, the way you dribbled the ball, your complete rejection of a certain subject like big kid math or science. All those teachers encouraging you, telling you it’s possible.
Just keep your eyes closed a few more seconds. It’s junior high and you’re a grown person. You know most everything. You don’t want anyone telling you anything, yet the noise that comes out of the end of your horn is not quite music. When you set your feet to block on the offensive line, you are in the wrong spot. You wear your favorite dress, but you accidentally pour something all over it in the cafeteria or the lab. You want to smile at people, but your braces look hideous.
Throughout all of this, there are these adults smiling, telling you their own stories of travail and heartache and assuring you that it’s all going to pass. You wonder how you ever passed a test or learned a single thing.
Then, boom. You’re here.
Tenth grade was yesterday. Eleventh grade — when was that? Last week? What happened?
Your hands are large and you handle the ball with grace and ease. Your homework begins to make sense. Your steer wins awards. Your feet are always in the right place, you don’t even think about it. It’s like breathing or batting your eyes. Those kids from Burnet and Taylor have no chance. On your way to the basket, sometimes you fly. It looks like you are going over the volleyball net, but you hold your form with fierceness. Your bat connects like it’s magic. The soccer ball belongs at the end of your foot, nowhere else. Your music sounds so good that you sometimes get goose bumps.
And now you’re here. You’re here, but not for long now. All those people, that long line of teachers, friends’ parents, folks you don’t remember why they helped you exactly or what it was they said that encouraged you. That word, what was it? That touch on the back, that grin as you hobbled back to the sideline. Your teacher’s face as you win UIL.
You’re on top of the world. You did it, but remember, you had a lot of investors.
As you climb those mountains in the distance, don’t forget the little hill that brought you to them.
~ Charley Wilkison
Co-owner of The Independent