Dear Central Hardin, I’m Signing Out, For Good.


Kenzie Stambaugh

Dear Central Hardin,

In the summer of 2018, I had just moved to Kentucky from a small town in Maine. I was lost, insecure, and afraid. I had never attended a large school. I had never known what it was like to develop pet peeves in the hallway. I had never known what it was like to rush across the school to get to your next class. But if you asked freshman Kenzie how she imagined leaving Central Hardin, it would not have been so radiant, comforting, and exciting. I would never have thought I’d get the opportunities I’ve been given today. 

I would never have seen all these people supporting me; from work, school, and people I’ve known for years who don’t even live in the area. I’m beyond grateful for the people I’ve met these last four years. All the teachers I’ve connected with these past four years, it’s been an honor. Though I can’t lie, I’m not the saddest to say goodbye. I’m sad to say goodbye to the inability to make more memories. 

I’m beyond grateful for the learning. While I thank the people I am close to, I have to thank the people who are no longer a part of my everyday life as well, those who I was sad to let go of. I wish them nothing but pure bliss and success. Of course, I’m saying goodbye to those my own age, I’m saying goodbye to those younger than me as well: my pre-school students. Oh, my sweet, dearest students. Nothing has ever lifted me up more like a running hug, a picture of something they’re proud of, or learning how to say my name and being excited to tell me about their day. The heart of a pre-schooler is one of a kind. My smart loving kiddos are the reason I am evolving. I learned with them. Sure, not how to say my ABCs and how to write my name. They surrounded my first step in education. When I tell you nothing made my day better than seeing them smile to see me in the afternoons, all my worries disappeared.

Central Hardin, you’ve brought out the best and worst of me. I’ve seen new challenges, beginnings, and more open doors. Things I’d never see if I was still living in my small Canadian bridge town, my lake town, my gray town, my small town. As I travel along the highways and soar among the clouds, I’ll still think about all the memories that sit in the back of my head from time to time. Being in gym class for what felt like three years. Those darn testing days, long testing days. Going home on a bus with my friends because we were too young to drive yet and we didn’t want to because it meant we were growing up. Here we stand, the class of 2022. The class of strength, wisdom, spirit, and integrity. Central Hardin, where we once were thrilled to open a new door and are now ready to close it and open a new one. Also, thank you for finally pronouncing my last name correctly. Central Hardin, I’m signing out. Goodbye. 

“You don’t have to be sorry for leaving and growing up” – Harry Styles: Matilda