The Zak Zone

The month of May is an interesting, busy month for the soon-to-be-graduated seniors of the Class of 2012. And for those involved in athletics, the month is an even busier one.

The tennis team was the first to complete its playoffs, and while most of the seniors ended their track and field careers yesterday, senior thrower Brody Morgan will continue to prepare for next weekend's PIAA State Championships.

Thursday evening was a busy one for the seniors: Class Night – a night meant to honor the seniors for all of their academic and extra-curricular accomplishments. The athletes who earned MVP awards in their respective sports were honored (see Saturday's edition of Spirit Sports for the photos).

The next few weeks will be equally crazy for the athletes, as graduation and all the things that come with preparing for and celebrating the ceremony are quickly coming upon them — and celebrating is such a good word for it.

From each team's respective Senior Night to their annual banquets, from Class Night to graduation night, these athletes and their graduating classmates are so deserving of every ounce of recognition they receive.

This graduating class will certainly hold a very special place in my heart. Right up there with my classmates — as I ended up watching the athletic events from the stands as a fan throughout my high school years — and with the Class of 2003 — my brother's and his friends' graduating class — the class of 2012 has become one I will never forget.

The memories they have given me will long remain the first-year-on-the-job memories I have as the Spirit's sports writer.

Graduation is a time of mixed emotions.

Bringing one long phase in a person's life to close, the seniors are about to open a new chapter in their books, and I wish them the best on whichever journey each is about to begin.

I think back to my waning days as a member of the Class of 2000. It seems so long ago, now, but I remember the mixed emotions I had: Elated at the thought of turning the page toward whatever was ahead of me and terrified of the same prospect, as well.

And I'm sure many of this year's class share similar feelings as they approach what may be the greatest transition of their lives.

As most of you know, I had no “official” journalism experience when I was hired as the sports writer here in Punxsutawney.

I was equipped only with a love for writing, a passion for sports and a half-year course on journalism on PAHS's own Shadow staff.

My first Zak Zone is one I will remember writing for the rest of my days, but reflecting back on my high school years, it wasn't the first column I'd ever written.

As a member of the Shadow staff in 2000, I had a column called The World I Know — titled after one of my favorite songs at the time by Collective Soul.

As we neared graduation, I was torn over what to write in my parting piece.

After much thought and consideration, I decided to write about exactly what was on all of our minds: Goodbyes.

Athletes of the Class of 2012 and their families, it's been a pleasure covering you this year, and it's a shame I was able to cover you for that one year.

Some of you will move on to other places, others will remain in the community for life. But either way, you'll always have Punxsy in your blood. And I'm confident you'll all do your best to do Punxsy proud.

I leave you with these parting words about saying goodbyes — words that rang true to my classmates and I back in 2000. I hope they have some meaning to you, as well.

The World I Know

Goodbye — One of the most dreaded words by high school seniors around the world. Goodbyes are always sad, whether it be for a few days or for a lifetime.

To me, goodbyes are all depressing. I am not looking forward to that day at the end of summer when I have to depart from my family and friends to head off to college. I’m sure I am not alone either.

There are friends from our childhoods. There are friends from our rec. league baseball teams. There are friends from junior high. Then, there are friends we’ve just met.

It will be equally hard to say goodbye to each and every one of these friends. The reason it will be so hard is that I may never see some of these friends again.

However, goodbyes are not all about the negative. Saying goodbye gives us an opportunity to look back on our past and think about all the good times, and bad, that we’ve had with our friends.

Sure, it may be sad to look back, but personally, it fills me with a feeling of happiness for all that we’ve been through together. It gives me a chance to realize all that my friends and I have done together and how much fun I actually have had ever since my childhood.

I think some old wise person said it best when he said, “You never really know what you have until it’s gone.” I would think it would be a shame to leave any of my friends without saying goodbye. It would seem like there were some sort of void in my life.

My friends are all very special to me. Although it will be very hard to say goodbye to each and every one of them, I have realized that it must be done. So, I will look them in the eye, tell them I love them, and wish them the best in their future, secretly crying inside, hoping that I will see them again very soon.

On a side note, I would just like to ask you all to appreciate what your family and friends have done for you. It is a great feeling knowing that someone loves you, and I’d just like to thank everyone who’s done their best to make me feel loved. It truly is appreciated, and I thank you all from the bottom of my heart.

Best wishes Class of 2012.