(Thanks to REM.)
My kids graduated from high school on Thursday. They’re not twins, but it’s a long story. Our district doesn’t have graduations for kindergarten, 4th grade, 8th grade, or anything else. So this is a big deal.
On the last day of class (they let the seniors out two weeks before the rest of the district), they had the “Senior Walk”. This is a long-standing, hallowed tradition. The kids put on their caps and gowns and walk through all the halls saying good-bye to their friends. As my son said, his friends were all seniors, so it was just a long walk. Then they walk across the bridge over the road outside. A lot of the parents come and take pictures, and it ends up in the local paper. I’m waiting for the movie.
In an epic case of cosmic bad timing, one of the students had died from cancer three days before. It gave the kids a chance to honor him with ribbons on their gowns and signs on their caps. That was the only positive – at least they were all together to support each other. And his identical twin. As I said, it was cosmically awful for these kids.
Next up was the Honors Assembly. I had flashbacks to my own. For me high school was socially passable, academically successful. So my mother made me go. It was an extremely long night. Everyone who had won anything had to troop across the stage and be applauded. When my daughter got an invitation, I was not thrilled. Proud, but not thrilled.
When we got the programs, it didn’t look too bad. There was a welcome by the principal (who everyone likes) and the handing out of several scholarships. We weren’t sure why we were there since our daughter had not won any of the listed scholarships, but it looked reasonable.
I should have realized that there would be a catch. We began with a paean to the top ten academic students. Who were sitting on the stage. They presented the names alphabetically in the interests of treating them all equally. Apparently there was no concern about segregating them from the rest of their classmates.
Being mainly academic scholarships, there was a lot of repetition in who was receiving them. The parents all clapped appreciatively, although a lot of us were wondering why they had been invited to see awards given to other people’s children.
Finally our patience was rewarded. Sorta. After a break, we were treated to a parade of the students with their pictures and awards/scholarships flashed on a screen. It was great. Except they neglected to list the two scholarships our daughter had won from the colleges she applied to. At least her picture looked nice.
My uncle wanted to attend the ceremony. And drive. My daughter had gotten the directions, and it appeared to be an easy drive. But my uncle had a “better way”. I didn’t find out about the “better way” until we were driving past our exit. Long story short – the improvement added a half hour to our drive. If we’d been a few minutes later, the kids would not have been allowed to walk in the procession.
And we would have been sitting behind the stage. Did I mention that one of the main uses for the building is as a sports arena? It’s the home of one of the feeder teams for the Red Wings. It has two parts, but both are set up in a 360 degree viewing pattern.
As it was, we ended up behind the band. As near as I can tell, the individuals all play fairly well, but the director hasn’t taught them to play as a unit. It was a unique rendering of “Pomp and Circumstance”. Over and over as all 500+ students filed in (it’s a consolidated district). Plus the dignitaries and teachers.
The teachers. I’m glad they weren’t the ones teaching my kids manners. Most of them only applauded for a few of the students. Only a few of the students clapped for everyone. I was proud to see that two of them were related to me. I forgave their ability to sleep in while I get up at 2:30a for a few minutes.
Four of the teachers performed the class song, “Don’t You Forget About Me,” by Simple Minds. I love the song and thought it was a great choice. I think the band was more nervous than the kids. At least their parents weren’t recording every move.
The speeches were short and poignantly sweet. During the procession, they made it all the way to the middle of the “A”s before they got a name wrong. A first name. Totally wrong. He probably would have gotten more applause if anyone had known who he was.
Then it was over. And we had to find our kids among the hundreds of people at the bottom of the arena. That (and getting out of the parking lot) took almost as long as the ceremony.