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  • Kelsey Bumbaco

'Continue to Get on the Bus'

By Kelsey Bumbaco Kelsey Bumbaco, senior class president of Lake Forest High School, offered her thoughts during the 89th annual commencement ceremony June 8. As I’ve been reflecting on the end of my high school career and moving onto college, I’ve thought back to my first day of school. 


On my first day of kindergarten, brave five-year old Kelsey thought she was finally ready to take on the vast world ahead of her. I was eager to experience a new school, make new friends, and create new opportunities. However, my five year old self didn’t realize the challenges that were soon ahead of me. My first challenge: taking the morning school bus. Now I thought I was ready.



"Throughout my high school journey, I’ve learned the importance of getting on different buses," said Kelsey Bumbaco to her fellow graduates.

I wore my vibrant justice T-shirt, my frog headband, and had my Hello Kitty backpack lugging behind me. Kindergarten wasn’t ready for me. I bounded onto that bus, sat at the very front and waved out to my parents through the window. I really thought I was ready to take on my first adventure. Until the bus started to drive away and I realized that my parents weren’t coming with me. And that’s when I cried my entire way to school. While it’s a funny story now, at the time, it was traumatizing. I thought I was ready.  Ready to take on the strange world that lies ahead of me. Yet, I quickly learned that I was not ready to push myself onto the bus.  


As I look at all of you, I’ve realized that despite our diverse journeys and backgrounds, we’ve all arrived at Lake Forest High School on the same bus with high expectations of what our high school experience would look like. However, we soon learned that those expectations might have been too good to be true. Freshman year we only knew what each other looked like from the nose up and having google meets being our main source of communication. Even though we started high school in an unexpected way-- let’s be clear, it would still be nice to use our mute buttons or turn off the camera-- that experience has allowed us to find comfort in the unfamiliar. Now, four years later, it’s clear to me that we have unconsciously been pushing ourselves onto different buses for years. We’ve branched away from comfort and found ourselves amid a plethora of different opportunities. This could be joining a new club or trying a different sport-- each opportunity has brought us closer to growth. Heck, I played JV Badminton for the first time this year. Now, I most definitely am not the most amazing badminton player, but I made memories and connections that I otherwise would not have had the opportunity to. Four years ago, I could have never imagined myself standing up here in front of all of you, giving this speech, but here I am just hoping I don’t mess up. Now as I look at all of us sitting in our blue caps and gowns, I see a group of people who have grown together, learned together, and evolved together. And yet, I still hope I don’t mess up. 




Throughout my high school journey, I’ve learned the importance of getting on different buses. It opens doors to novel experiences, broadens perspectives, and fosters adaptability; enabling us to discover passions we never knew existed and uncover hidden talents waiting to be explored. Going beyond our comfort zone doesn't have to be about making life changing decisions; It could be as simple as trying the Friday wings, saying ‘hi’ to someone new in the halls,  or running around the lunch room in a sumo costume to get everyone excited for the Pep Rally. (Which I did in fact do.)  But trying these different things has to be something that you want to do, not something you’ve been told to do. It’s about embracing your own curiosities and following your own paths, not just the crowd. Over the years, we’ve learned the importance of stepping outside of our comfort zones and embracing the unknown. We’ve learned to seize every opportunity that may have come our way even if it seemed daunting. However, getting on the bus isn’t just about trying new things; it’s about finding different pathways that will lead us to who we will soon become. Every step we take and every choice we make will shape our future selves. We need to remember that although it may be difficult, it’s essential that we continue to embrace change not as something to be feared, but as a way to grow. Recognizing change as a positive rather than a negative will allow us to embrace the path that has led us here and the path ahead. So to my fellow graduates, I hope that even though it may be scary, you still continue to get on the bus. That although your life is about to change, you never forget where you started. You’ve done this before and now it’s time to do it again. We’re now ready. 


Thank you Lake Forest High School and to the class of 2024, congratulations!


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