Congratulations to all the graduates at every level, college, high school, middle school and kindergarden. This is a necessary ceremonial marker to remember significant transitions and major accomplishments.
OK, maybe not for the kindergarden graduates. That one might be more for the parents.
But for those who put on robes and hats at this time of year, it is important that we all acknowledge the achievement of completing a course of study. It was my great pleasure to attend a graduation last Sunday and to honor my son, Gus, and his friends as they moved into a new phase of their remarkable lives. Here they are, giddy with relief and tossing out a leg to take the next big step.
While I am filled with a father’s pride in my graduate and overwhelmed with admiration for excellence of his friends and the education they were offered, I did find parts of the final rituals a little comical.
Saturday night featured a ceremony where the graduates gathered in the chapel, heard speeches from classmates, sang a few songs, and then went out onto the campus grounds to find a lantern with their name affixed. Over 700 lights were aglow in the falling dusk. To hasten the search, the lanterns were arranged alphabetically. It was a beautiful scene with lovely symbolism, and weirdly appropriate that the final test after 16 years of schooling required a public demonstration that one had mastered those confounding ABC’s.
The next day was even better – I loved the sight of all the scholars marching in orderly lines to their rows of assigned seats – something I had just seen on an old videotape of a preschool holiday pageant. Major difference – as pre-schoolers, they were allowed to bang drums on the way.
And then came the ordeal – sitting under a merciless sun in 90 + degree heat for two hours wearing black robes and caps – something no truly educated person would choose to do. I wondered if the administration would unveil a late stunner of a surprise and award diplomas only to those who had the sense to skip the ceremony.
But no, this was a final, necessary hurdle, and will be remembered forever by the graduates for their sense of educational accomplishment and the light headed feeling of stubborn pounds most certainly lost through perspiration. On a molecular level, this graduation was a race between the need for the learned speakers to say every word they had carefully written, and the assured disintegration of the student’s bio-degradable robes. Moisture always wins in the end!
Congratulations Graduates! Now you know how to be patient and obedient, and if you hadn’t learned it before, now you know how important it is to hydrate!
What is your favorite memory from a graduation ceremony?