Celeste Nahas reflects on her years as a Pacer

Celeste NahasI wanted to write a graduation speech because I knew if I didn’t sit down and reflect on my four years at Lakeridge High School now I would never get the chance to. At least not in the same way, when memories are still fresh and I still consider Lakeridge a tiny universe that I belong to. And perhaps always will.

So when I sat down to write my speech, I wanted it to be profound. I wanted to sum up everything about high school and pack it into a suitcase, carrying it with me onto the shiny train of the future and say: “This — this right here — was my time at Lakeridge High School! Wasn’t it great? Didn’t I do well?”

I kept typing all the clichés I knew were only half-truths. The reliable, lackluster themes kept surfacing: never giving up on dreams, being eternally grateful for teachers and parents, finding inspiration in the world at large, becoming a family.

Words like compassion and engagement kept circling through my mind as if I was short-circuiting. I began to worry that my writing skills had atrophied — and that I wouldn’t be able to convey anything earth shattering.

I decided to turn off my laptop and scribble whatever came to mind. I found myself sketching the school itself, compartmentalizing the rooms I took tests in — the caverns of the lower B wing, the eerily quiet language lab.

I remembered that I love the way sunlight fills the main hallway in fall and late spring. This is the building in which I read some of my favorite books, met some of my closest friends. In this spot (Right here!) I learned what it means to bleed Pacer blue.

As I sketched, what surfaced were the feelings I carry with me on my back, in the bottom of my book bag, as I walk the halls of Lakeridge day after day. I realized: It’s impossible to synthesize the gradient that is high school into compact and profound truths. Real life, the day-to-day at Lakeridge, isn’t always vibrant with significance. There were the books we SparkNote-ed and games we lost. Sunday afternoons spent typing book reviews, loose ends that never got tied up. Research papers with incorrectly notated footnotes and chemistry problems with incorrect units. School lunches that left a little (a lot) to be desired and libraries we were banned from. Debates that started in Friday’s English class and ended the following Wednesday over coffee.

My best friends turned out to be the people who shared the most Goldfish crackers with me. My favorite class ended up being the one in which I scored lowest on tests. My most memorable conversation was with a custodian who told me, “Senioritis is a choice.” I’m not entirely sure I agree with that.

What I’ve learned is that the whole idea of a “penultimate moment of high school” is more fiction than fact. Time circles like an unbroken arc, a swooping seamless mirage — and it seems likely that we will arrive at this same moment four (or five … or six …) years from now. Again and again. We are not meant to be stagnant.

The home we made out of Lakeridge is a place of converging worlds. A place of basketball and theater and a weird, wired chemistry of fantastic people. A place of shouting and loudness where I found a few answers but mostly questions.

Lakeridge: A small school in a rich town outside of a medium-sized city in the state no one can pronounce. Snug in ludicrous suburbia. It isn’t much, really. A few rooms. A few hundred memories. Did it change me?

Sometimes in the soft morning light I walk to my car and feel the uneasiness that comes with being in control of the rest of my life. At least partly.

It seems that everything I do now is a potential statement. From the Converse shoes I wear to the coffee I carry, from the books I claim to have read to the books I brag about not reading. We teenagers thrive off what we can get away with.

We build networks so we feel simultaneously that we know everyone and yet have an inner circle. We have become surprisingly apolitical. And unsurprisingly competitive.

As my time at Lakeridge hurtles toward the finish line, I find myself spending more and more time at the elementary school across from my home. Perhaps it is a coping mechanism. Being at the playground resets the strange mixture of electric excitement and ennui I feel. Or perhaps I go because I still love swing sets and castle spires.

From the highest tower a view of my neighborhood spills out over the broken black tarmac. A thin slip of a kite hugs the rooftop. The world spins with the tire swing. I have 20 more days of high school, and, although I can’t pack up the past four years into a tidy box and ship them to my next destination — they will always be with me.

Celeste Nahas is a senior at Lakeridge High School. Nahas writes a monthly column for the Lake Oswego Review. She can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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