Chapter Twenty-Nine - Graduation

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~Chapter Twenty-Nine - Graduation~

"Grace Holland," the principal called, and I stepped forward and walked across the stage, nervousness twisting my stomach. Even though I had practiced this five times over before this very day, I was still nervous of tripping in front of all those people.

Cameras flashed around me, and someone called my name, as I stepped forward and shook Ms Capri's hand and took the diploma with the other.

Graduation. The end of our high school life.

I took my spot amongst the other students already there, and grinned at Cole, Matt and Annie, who had already received their diplomas.

Cole was third from the beginning, and Matt and Annie were standing side-by-side, clutching their diplomas tightly. 

I looked into the crowd as more names were read off. There was my mother, clutching a tissue and taking photos, my father and his wife Darla, who had made it up from Chicago for this. As well as Darla's ten-year-old son, Chris.

Then there was Tristan and Haley, who had come to watch my graduation, as I would come to watch theirs tomorrow. They smiled and waved. It was hard to believe nine months ago he had pretended to be gay in order to pull a prank on Cole for me. Back when the whole rivalry began.

Maggie was there, too, holding her baby bump and smiling proudly at me.  After three years of trying with her husband, she had finally been able to make a little Maggie, and I couldn't wait for her to have it. I was so sad I had to leave Gypsy Rose for college, but it was a small sacrifice to make.

There was also Amber, watching on and yelling my name. She had helped me realise so much about Cole and Matt. I owed her big time for that.

And there was Alyra, cheering us all on as she watched us receive our diplomas. I looked down at my robe and smiled. This was it.

"Emilie Robinson!" I cheered and clapped as Emilie came onstage, cautiously watching the hem of her robe and smiling shyly.
She shook hands, received her diploma and took her place.

"Cassandra Ruben!"

The names carried on, until finally we reached the final name. Then Annie, being voted valedictorian, got up on stage and made a speech.

The whole crowd watched on in silence as she begun.
"Graduation, to me - and most likely also to the other graduates around me - means one thing. Closing one door and opening another. But it won't be that easy. Because, for most of us, we don't want that door to close. We have had so many memorable, fun times here, made friends, developed relations, that have all happened here, and not all of us are ready to say goodbye.

        "But the thing is, another door is still open for us, a door filled with promise and opportunity, if we go through it the right way. Sure, we won't all be together for it, but along the way we will make new friends, develop new relationships, make more memories. It won't always be easy, but that's what high school was for. Teaching us how to persevere and become stronger and better people. It helped us become what we need to be to step into this new life of college, and from then on, the real world.

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