The graduation parties for the Class of 2013 are winding down and anticipation is building for what lies ahead. Northview and Southview graduates will soon be pushing their boats away from the shore.
A graduation ceremony celebrates students’ past accomplishments and foretells promising futures. Graduates sitting on stage recognize the importance of the moment, but view their culminating high school event as a launching pad. They yearn for more independence and the opportunity to pursue their own goals and interests. The collective swagger of the senior class: lookout world here we come.
For educators and parents, there is a bittersweet feel to seeing young people decked-out in caps and gowns. The personal bond between a student and teacher is the most rewarding aspect of working in the field of education.
School personnel are moved by students’ intellect, curiosity, thoughtfulness toward others, and sense of humor. Educators are always proud of academic growth and achievements. What they value even more are the life-giving interactions and experiences they share with students. News Flash: we miss students after they graduate.
During the graduation ceremony, parents are hit with a wave of emotion. They scroll through 18 years of memories – newborn rocking chair naps, birthdays, family vacations, athletic contests and music/dance performances, braces, trips to the ER, learning to ride a bike and drive a car, curfew negotiations, homecoming and prom picture sessions, and friends hanging-out at the house – and wonder where did the time go.
As graduates walk across the stage, parents are filled with pride, amazement, and the quiet sadness of letting-go.
My role as a dad has influenced the emphasis of my graduation speech. When our daughters were in elementary and junior high, my speeches brimmed with insights and advice. Now, with one daughter at the University of Toledo and the other a high school junior, I describe to graduates how the adults in their lives feel at this milestone moment. Summing up what words can’t say, I forewarn them to be ready for a parental bear-hug that lasts longer than usual.
With the arrival of August, our freshly-minted graduates will head-off to college, service abroad, the workplace, and the Armed Services. They aspire to make a difference in the world.
As educators and parents, we will always be walking alongside and cheering on members of the Class of 2013. We will think of them often, and when we do, we’ll give thanks for having been a part of shaping their path.