I sit here on graduation day.
I am one of many in a cap and gown, wondering where the past four years have gone.
Oh high school, how I will miss the brick building full of teenagers, angst, and unappetizing lunches.
I entered you and you chewed me up and spit me out as a new person ready to face the big bad world, I think.
I look at all of my classmates
We are all just part of the system.
Every year people stand in the same place I am now, formed and shaped for the future ahead of them.
We are copies within a copy.
Even though we all went through the same old system, we all experience it differently.
The stories are heard of everyday, after all, and yet nobody really pays attention.
There is the boy sitting a few rows ahead of me.
His head is down, he is just waiting for his diploma and then he is out of here.
He doesn’t want to be noticed, he just wants to be gone.
There are bruises on his face.
He told his teachers he fell, but is that really what happened?
He is afraid.
He is afraid that someone will not believe his story of the sidewalk.
He is afraid that someone will tell and then the real person behind his bruises will seek him out.
He is afraid of what will happen if his face meets fists again.
In the third row there is an empty seat.
It belongs to a girl.
She was quite popular, especially with the guys.
She was a nice girl who would never take advantage of anyone.
Sadly, she was the one taken advantage of.
She doesn’t blame the baby, how could she?
But in this society of judgment and hate, she will most likely be the one blamed.
She put herself out there, she tempted him, blah blah blah.
It was not her, but the little pill that was slipped into her drink.
Now she sits at home with the baby, all hopes of college and medical school gone.
Wondering what she could have done differently so she could be sitting in that chair.
I focus back to graduation as my name is called.
As I walk up to the stage to take the piece of paper that proves I served my time, I reflect on myself.
I did not experience any of these problems in my four years here, but so many have.
These are just a couple problems in a pool of many.
I want to help, but how can I?
What do you say? Who do you talk to? How do you react?
I have a voice, but others don’t have the courage to speak.
They need to be given a voice too.
I… No we need to speak up.
We need to let them know that their voice, even if a whisper, is heard.
We need to listen to their pleas for help, not criticize.
We must make their voices be heard.
For we are the future, and the future is starting now.