Editor's note: Glenbrook North High School senior Dylan Buckner lost his battle to depression on Jan. 7, 2021. The Herald requested the Buckner family to provide their thoughts on Dylan as he would have graduated with the Spartans Class of 2021. Dylan's father, Chris, graciously improved upon that idea by writing an account of what Dylan "might have said to his friends in the Class of 2021."
To the graduating class of 2021:
Congratulations! Be proud of yourself and your accomplishment today. You have worked hard and earned your success. Take time to enjoy it and "smell the roses."
Savor this remarkable day and the time you get to spend with all of your friends and family in the same place. Happy days where everyone, or nearly everyone, you love is with you are very rare. As life goes on there will be many unremarkable days that you will forget.
Today is not one of those days. You will remember this day for the rest of your life. Cherish every moment!
In the book of your life, you have just completed the first few chapters. Regardless of how the story has gone so far, the best part of the book is yet to come! While your parents may have co-authored the first few chapters with you, you will increasingly write the story yourself from this point forward. Write the story you want! Make the story fun and exciting, and make sure it has a happy ending!
Your young life is filled with almost limitless possibilities. As you embark on your incredible journey, remember the following:
Money does not buy happiness. Do what you love and the money you need to live will find you.
Relationships matter. Who you know trumps what you know the majority of the time.
Surround yourself with friends and people who love and respect you for who you are. In college, your career and much of life, many days have a "sameness" to them. How much you enjoy the "sameness" will be determined in large part by who you are experiencing it with.
Life goes by quickly. You will be watching your children graduate high school sooner than you can imagine. Spend your life on things and people that make you happy.
Life has both "ups" and, as the Class of 2021 knows better than anyone, some "downs." Be optimistic. Things will get better. Be a part of making things better. If you are struggling, ask for help. Your friends and family love you and they are there for you. They would do anything to help you.
In closing, I challenge the Class of 2021 with the graduation cliché to use your lives to "Make the World a Better Place."
But I'm not asking you to cure mental illness or cancer, end hunger or poverty, or save the planet from climate change. I'm asking you to change the world by being a good person. Be kind. Be inclusive. Take care of one another. Help those in need. If you do that you can make the world a better place everyday.
-- Dylan Buckner, No. 7, Class of 2021, Glenbrook North High School