This Is It

June 2016 Ryan Granger

This is it.

These are my final days as a student on HOL. These are the days that seven years ago I couldn't wait to see happen. These are the days that I thought would never get here, and now they are.

I remember when I first signed up for HOL. I was relatively young, only about 14 years old, when I clicked the sign-up button. Originally I intended on signing up even earlier, but for some reason, I had always missed the sign-up period. I would get extremely frustrated with myself for missing it, but never gave up hope. I knew that one day I would sign up, and enjoy my time here, because from that young of age, I knew HOL was a special place.

I was devastated that I wasn't able to sign-up precisely at midnight when sign-ups opened and had to settle for being about the sixth or seventh person who signed up for that year. It was during that insane rush and excitement that I was finally getting to join that I didn't really put any thought into what my name was going to be. I chose a generic first name, and then when it came time to pick a last name, I didn't want to waste anymore time and just sign-up, so I stole the last name of my favorite character. While I could have changed my last name later on, I came to love it and now it's weird to think of myself as anyone other than Ryan Granger.

Now I won't bore you with a year-by-year description of my time here, but I did want to take a brief time to explain some of my younger years. Being a 14-year-old boy, I admit, I was annoying. That didn't improve once I got on IRC. (It probably got worse.) I'm sure there was talk of, "My gosh, can we get rid of this one? He's awful." Well the problem was that I was dead set on being on this site, and I wasn't going anywhere. It wasn't until I finally understood the people of HOL and you know, developed people skill that I finally got in the groove of things.

By my second year I went through the PiT program in Ravenclaw, and would later become a Reserve Prefect, which I so lovingly called RMPiT. (A Reserve Male Prefect in Training) By the end of my second year, I became a full-fledged prefect for the site that I was so desperate to be a part of. It was an absolute dream come true. I'm pretty sure Rhiannon got an e-mail full of exclamation points and other gibberish that I managed to keyboard smash when I got that e-mail from her asking if I wanted to become a prefect. I vividly remember dancing around in my basement with small tears in my eyes because I was so excited.

While for the most part, it was all up from that moment on, I did see my shares of struggles. That's something that I think every HOLer will have at some point in their time here. There are moments when you get so frustrated and upset that you're ready to click that quit button, but there's something so special about the place that you just can't leave it behind. Just know that whenever you're feeling down, there is always someone here to make you feel better.

It's amazing how things change in seven years. The people, the events, the way things are done. It all has changed since I first joined HOL seven years ago. Thankfully, there have been several things that haven't changed though. The camaraderie, the passion, and the amazing experiences this site has to offer just to name a few. There's nothing that I love more than those aspects of HOL.

The one thing that hasn't changed in seven years is the amazing people. I have met some of the most incredible people that I will never forget for everything they've done for me. These people have been there for me through thick and thin, through HOL problems and Real Life issues. The people here are amazing. If I could personally thank every single one of you, I would. You all mean so much to me. And while I can't necessarily list every single one of you, there are some people who deserve some special thanks because without them I would have never accomplished as much as I have. I would have never been a student teacher, library department deputy head, prefect, co-head prefect for Ravenclaw and more. So I'm going to do my best to give them all a thanks they deserve.

For starters, thank you to all the people who aren't here anymore. You all are special individuals that I wish could have stuck around, but I know you all are doing amazing things on your own.

To the members of the PPC, you all were the bomb-dot-com. From Rorey Padfoot, Zoki Phantom, Serenity Thomas, Ivelisse Ada, Hermionie Miranda, Katelin Ross, Rin Silrose, Rowan Dream, Abby Chalmers, and more. (I know I forgot some, but just know that you still mean a ton to me). You all were some of the first close friends I made on HOL, and will always be special for that.

To all the other house staff members, thanks for always motivating me to do more. Thanks for working with me when I'm sure I wasn't your first choice to deal with. You all do a lot of great work and are some good role-models for HOL. Thanks to those from other houses who have helped me along the ways. (Scarlet Leslie, Sirius Fudge, Ivelisse Ada, Hermionie Miranda, Aly, Celestra, and many many more).

To the house of Ravenclaw, I don't know where to begin. You guys are by the far the best people I've met. Being a prefect for you has been an incredibly rewarding experience because of you all. I wouldn't want to serve another house. You make me so proud and I can't wait to see what all you do in the years to come.

To the Ravenclaw Staff members past and present, Thank you for giving me a chance even when you really didn't want to. I hope I made you all proud. Special thanks to Alexia Riaper and Jenna Hathaway for training me to be such a great prefect. I owe you two a lot even though you're not around anymore.

To the current staff, it's been an absolute honor to work with you. You all are some of the most creative people I've ever met. It's no wonder why Ravenclaw thrives, because of people like you. All the work you do is incredible and I just wanted to say thank you for all of that. To Cassie, Rhiannon, Kyrie, Sil, and any other Ravenclaw heads, you all are fantastic and have done so much for this house that I can't get over how awesome you all are.

To the Ravenclaw prefects and reserves, you make me so proud and are doing some amazing work. Keep up the incredible work and continue to make our house proud. Special shoutout to Shiloh Adlar for putting up with me as my class assistant. I know I tell you all the time, but you are the absolutely best and I'm so glad I have you to help!

To all the HOL Head Office people who have made this site possible, from the bottom of my heart: Thank You. This site has changed me for the better and I don't know what I would do without it. So thank you for giving not only me, but all our members, the chance to express our love for Harry Potter and to make life-long friends.

There's one final thank you left to say and the saying "saving the best for last" is the biggest understatement I could make about this person. Back in our second year we were partnered up in PiT and I really think we were supposed to meet then. I can't imagine what would have happened if I would have joined sooner or later than when I did. Things wouldn't have been the same and I wouldn't have met Arielle Lemoyne. I wouldn't have met my best friend and partner in crime. I wouldn't have anyone to bother about how stupid vegetables are, or tease her about other stupid things. I'm so thankful to have you by my side for the past seven years. Things wouldn't have been the same without you, and I'm so incredibly thankful to call you my friend not only on HOL but also in real life as well. I wouldn't have wanted to spend these last seven years without anyone but you and I cannot wait to see what else we accomplish in the next coming years.

While my 14-year-old self never thought this day would come and couldn't wait to say he graduated, I'm sad to say my journey as a student is coming to an end, but my time here at HOL is far from over. I know I forgot a million and one thank yous from this, and this is just a small drop in the bucket of my story, but just know this site will change your life. It changed mine for sure, and it changed it for the better. I hope every single one of you has just as amazing and life-changing journey as I have and have tons of fun.