A Letter From Your 2021 Salutatorian

Magen McMillian

Hello fellow friends, peers, and everything in between. I’ve attended Decatur schools starting my kindergarten year and have never left the Decatur community, which has been a blessing being able to grow up with some of my classmates since day one.

Over 13 years I’ve learned some valuable lessons. First, it’s important to know how to eat an elephant, and that is one bite at a time. Don’t worry, I’m an animal lover through and through; it’s just a metaphor. This saying has reminded me to take something overwhelming and break it down into more reasonable sized chunks I can digest. As you get farther into high school sometimes school work can become overwhelming, and you may want to stick your head in the sand like an ostrich and ignore it all. Trust me, I had my moments, but keep your head high. 

This next lesson may sound cliché, but enjoy the little things. The little things are what allowed me to still be second in my class. I would say my senior year was definitely the hardest year of high school for me for many reasons, and to get away from it all I would garden and work with plants in the high school greenhouse. Those 1 or 2 hours of silence I collected in that greenhouse every day gave me peace and allowed me to slow down my brain enough to recharge. Not only did I find my love for plants in that greenhouse, but my people, Alexis and Abigail. They are a fun bunch! Again, it’s the little things.

Lastly, ending off my last few weeks of high school, I have learned to let go and not take life too seriously. It’s important to let yourself have some downtime occasionally and to do something just because you feel like doing it, not because you feel obligated or someone wants you to. For me, I found myself listening to jazz music or watercoloring. I would do these things for no reason other than the fact that I found them to be fun. They gave me joy, as Marie Condo would say. 

If I’m giving any advice to you underclassmen out there on the rest of your high school journey or life in general, it would be to find a balance. Make sure you’re doing what you need to be doing in school because it can get you really far in terms of college, the military, or whatever you plan on doing, but make sure there is some splashes of fun mixed in as well. 

In my future I’m looking forward to dedicating my life to conservation and the environment as I plan on studying Ecological Forestry at Warren Wilson College in North Carolina. The environment has always been a passion of mine as I would watch David Attenborough documentaries and explore my surroundings. If you don’t know who I’m talking about, I recommend you check him out, he is the KING of environmentalism. Overall, high school was an important journey in my life, and I hope every single one of you finds an undeniable passion that will allow you to change the world. We need more people to change the world for the better.

Peace out my dudes, as Mr. Belding would say,

Anna Evans