For 18 years you have been there. You have supported me at my sporting, theater and school events. Through it all, I always knew you were there to back me up. I remember how tight the community was when tragedy struck. I remember how vibrant the school was when individuals qualified for state in their sports. I remember how quiet Main Street is when you’re driving down it at night. I remember how supportive you were when community members showed up to school functions that their family isn’t involved in anymore.
Most importantly, I remember how much I wanted to leave you. I remember sitting in my third-grade class at Olga Brener dreaming of going off to college in another state. I remember wishing to “escape” Shawano because it’s too small. I remember feeling annoyed when I encountered people I knew at the store because you can never be alone.
Reflecting back on those thoughts after 18 years of thinking them, I don’t know if I can relate to them anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I can’t wait to start the next chapter of my life. However, I now think deeper about the reasons I can’t wait to leave. I am going to miss dreaming of the life ahead of me as I made bonds with some people that I hope to keep for life. I am going to miss being able to get to a friend’s house in less than 12 minutes with a pint of ice cream after her and her boyfriend broke up. I am going to miss bumping into my fifth-grade teacher at Walmart and her telling me how much I’ve grown as a person.
I guess what I am trying to say to the Shawano community is that I appreciate you. Thank you for supporting me all these years when I thought you were the enemy. You were never the enemy, but instead, you’re an ally. Even now, when I am going to another state, I still have your support. Thank you for being the place that I will always get to call home.
With much appreciation,
A high school senior