Grace Hutson is off to Ukraine. Kailyn Harris to Morgan State University. Mylz Hahn to Princeton.
The three 18-year-old Brunswick High School students gathered among maroon-robed classmates in a gymnasium, giddy and excited, and waited. First to line up, then to walk down the aisle in front of family and friends, then across the stage where they would receive their diplomas, ending their high school careers.
“It’s a weird feeling. It’s weird to know that after so many years in Brunswick and four years at Brunswick High, we’re finally all done here,” said Hahn, who plans to major in East Asian studies with a minor in linguistics at Princeton.
He is still processing the end of high school, he said. He has to remind himself there is no more homework to complete — at least until he gets to college.
He was not the only one grappling with the end of high school.
“There are no words,” student speaker Rebeka Ogren said in her speech to the class. “Because today is a day of lasts.”
Already, the students have finished the last day of high school, the last homework assignment, the last class. The last conversations they had with a friend.
Brunswick High School lost Jimmy King, 18, over the summer. Flowers on the stage memorialized him.
But, as Ogren told her classmates, every last comes with a beginning.
“Remember to live, to dream and to always cherish the beginnings that inevitably come with the lasts,” Ogren said.
For Hutson, that beginning will take her to Ukraine, where she will spend a semester teaching English to preschool students. She spent her high school years preparing by taking child education classes and being an aide in the Learning for Life program, a special education class.
She wants to travel to Ukraine because her two adoptive brothers come from the country, and she wants to learn more about where they were born.
“For the past three years, this is all I’ve dreamed of doing, going to Ukraine and teaching English,” Hutson said.
After returning to the U.S., she plans to attend Frederick Community College.
Harris is to study nutrition at Morgan State. She’s loved cooking since her mother taught her to make scrambled eggs when she was 7, and nutrition allows her to combine food and science. She will enter college with credits from her time at FCC. She dual-enrolled in the community college and the Career and Technology Center her senior year.
Her father encouraged her to take culinary arts, and she placed second in the Career and Technology Center’s Life Skills competition, where she had to make a three-course meal. As she walked across the stage, she wore a medal from the competition, a medal from the Career and Technology Center and cords representing honors.
Morgan State University is close to home and close to her grandmother, she said. Her parents, grandmother, three brothers and two sisters all cheered her as she graduated.
“Morgan [State University] was the first school I looked at, and I absolutely fell in love with their campus,” Harris said.
She described her feelings toward graduation in one word.