Farewell Senior Letter

Dear Senior,

 

Before you know it, graduation will be here! This is a time of year when we like to give you, as a departing senior, a few last minute healthy suggestions.  First, it is time to check on your immunizations. If you are going to college and/or getting a job, you may need or want a Tetanus/Pertussis update, a second measles vaccine, three hepatitis B vaccines, or the meningococcus vaccine to provide protection against one form of meningitis. There is also a vaccine against Human Papilloma Virus, the major cause of cervical cancer in women. Discuss these with your parents and physician. We suggest that you bring your completed immunization certificate to the school nurse, so that the vaccine dates can be recorded on your permanent health record that is maintained until you are twenty-seven. Also, it’s time to discuss with your parents if you should change from pediatrics to adult medicine, as this is a good time to schedule an appointment with your own physician for a college or pre-employment physical exams.

 

Next, this is a fun time of year with many celebrations. It is also a time of year when seniors can be reckless and may take risks they may not have taken before. Please keep these points tucked in the back of your mind as you celebrate your achievements.

  1. Motor vehicles of any sort must not be used recklessly. At this time of year we are always reminded of a senior who was accidentally killed in the parking lot by his friend when hopping on moving cars in the school parking lot. Cars are machines, and people are fragile. One minute all is well. The next minute lives can change forever. Use good sense and remember who you are.
  1. Wear seat belts! Keep your eyes on the road. Do not interfere with the driver. If you’re driving, keep both hands on the wheel and your attention on the road. Do not bend down to pick up something that falls. Do not rely on a passenger to make driving decisions for you. If you can’t see, don’t rely on a passenger to say, “It’s clear.” Wait until you can see what you are heading into before moving. Drive defensively more than ever. Put cell phones away! Avoid text messaging or having phone conversations while driving.
  1. Do not underestimate how impaired your judgment can become under the influence of even small amounts of alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, and other drugs. Avoid “funneling” or chugging down alcohol that can cause your blood alcohol level to rise to dangerous and even life-threatening levels quickly. Do not ride in a car with a driver who is under the influence of any such substance. Do not operate a car if you are under the influence. Call your parents, friends, or a taxi if you need a safe ride home. Celebrate unimpaired, and be high on life. If you are a smoker, consider quitting now so you can avoid a lifetime of addiction.
  2. Graduation is a transition. Transitions are times that can be stressful. Stress can cause old problems to re-emerge. Depression, eating disorders, and substance abuse problems, among others that seem to be returning need prompt attention. The earlier you seek help, the better. Try not to slip backwards.
  3. This is the time to strive for peak physical fitness. You should be doing cardiovascular exercise six-days a week for 1 hour a day, and strength training twice a week. Eat healthy foods in sensible portion sizes, and do not skip meals. Get and stay fit for the rest of your life. And don’t forget the self-exams you learned and to take care of your teeth! Schedule an appointment with your dentist if you are overdue.
  4. Finally, continue to make sound decisions regarding relationships. Never leave drinks unattended or find yourself isolated with someone you do not know and trust. Please do not allow your good judgment to be tricked into getting involved in a sexual relationship that you are not ready for or even want. Learn to say no and mean it. One careless moment can dash your lifelong efforts to achieve your goals or dreams.

 

Be safe and healthy and may your most wonderful hopes and dreams be realized!