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September 29, 2023

Commentary: Finding normal

On the first day of high school, everyone wants to be normal. From finding the right friend group to simply finding the next classroom, we overthink every single thing as we try to find our niche in this nerve-racking place.

Our young, 14-year-old brains are telling us to act cool as we cross the quad, trying not to trip over our own feet in front of the seniors or spill food down the front of our brand new outfits.
All we want to do is fit in and be normal, but in all reality Class of 2018, we are not normal. Many of us have already figured this out as we watched Seabass, otherwise known as Lil’ Pump, dance around to Gucci Gang with a blonde wig and face tattoos during the REIBT Rally.
But, for those of us who haven’t, think about it: we have had six administrators, acted as the guinea pigs for freshman and junior seminar, and on top of that, we have seen both the beginning and ending of many teachers’ careers at Healdsburg High School.
At this point, we have to be setting school records. We also can’t forget the ongoing construction and the two natural disasters that we went through during freshman year, when the Safeway parking lot turned into a lake and senior year, when all of Sonoma County seemed to be on fire. I guess you can say we’ve been through it all.
The truth is, normal does not exist in high school and I commend each and every one of my classmates for continuing to challenge the status quo, regardless of what others may think.
While some may disagree, I believe that great things come from the abnormal. Maya Angelou once said, “If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be,” and the Class of 2018 exemplifies this wholeheartedly.
Our class has learned to fight the standard, rather than just accept it because it is “normal” in the eyes of others. We challenge everything put before us, whether that be a new class that is being tried for the first time or a young, unsuspecting teacher that has no clue what high school students are capable of. This was exactly the case as frosh seminar was introduced as a graduation requirement, followed closely by junior seminar.
We had our doubts after being poked and prodded by the freshman seminar class, but once again, we took the challenge head-on. From creating the infamous 10-year plan to preparing for junior internships and the SAT, the curriculum was harmless.
While I still don’t know whether I’ll be a mother of three living in the suburbs of Chicago or a cardiothoracic surgeon making well over $300k within the next 10 years, what I do know is that Healdsburg High School has had a difficult task.
The World Economic Forum estimates that nearly 65 percent of students today will end up holding jobs in the near future that do not even exist yet; at this point, many of us may be asking ourselves, “does normal even exist?” and I am here to assure you that it does.
Remember, high school is merely a stepping stone on our journey to define what our normal is. Whether you are taking a gap year, entering the workforce directly, attending the JC, or going straight to a four-year, the options are endless and you will end up creating your normal in one way or another.
In all honesty, I would not want to have it any other way. These last four years have been a learning curve, full of laughter and most importantly, love for our community and one another.
Although it has not been rosy every step of the way, we cannot forget to thank those who have made it possible for us to be sitting in these seats today.
I am grateful to have had the chance to spend the last four years with all of you in a place that fosters growth, encourages students to challenge the norm and prepares us to take on the next chapter of our lives.
Many of the teachers and staff at Healdsburg High School once sat in these very seats, went off to college, then came back to this community to find their normal. Now, they are the ones challenging us to define what that term means in our lives.
After leaving here today, I challenge each of you to continue pursuing your idea of normal, but to not settle for anything less than greatness in whatever your normal may be. I can’t wait to see all of you at our 10-year reunion to compare how accurate our 10-year plans were and hear your stories about how you found your normal.
Lola Plum was the student speaker at the Healdsburg High School Class of 2018 commencement ceremony. This is her speech.


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