Saturday, June 23, 2007

Graduation Past and Present

Thursday evening was Hillsborough High School’s graduation. All over town orders for special cakes and cookies went out and “Congratulations Graduate” balloons floated off mailboxes.

Okay, congratulations graduates.

I hate to be the one to tell you this, but that’s it. The juniors have moved up into your exalted senior position. Summer will pass and September will come and it will not be like the Septembers you remember for the past thirteen years. Life will move on.

Now, all you members of the Class of 2007 are excused. You old guys keep reading – you know who you are.

All you past grads – no matter how long ago or from what high school – should now take a few minutes to dust off and look through your high school yearbooks.

First you are allowed to laugh about the hairstyles, the glasses, the boy’s ties, and whatever else strikes your fancy. [Now you know why your parents and teachers encouraged you to buy a yearbook.]

Now look again at how hopeful you all look, all your futures ahead of you. Study the list of careers you were certainly going to have: teacher, doctor, engineer, nurse, police officer, soldier, and maybe a few jobs that don’t even exist anymore. Did anyone say they wanted to be a mail carrier or a garbage collector or a house painter or a cashier? These are all honorable jobs that are needed in our society and provide the incomes to support families, but we never close our eyes at seventeen and picture ourselves as being the ones doing them for the next fifty years.

Read the printed comments below your picture – the ones you submitted never considering that they would follow you for the rest of your life. Now look at the comments that the yearbook staff assigned to you – you know, the popular kids who didn’t even know you. Read the comments written by the kids who were going to be your friends forever.

Remember, for just a minute, the classmates who have died. They are still alive in your memories.

What did you think was going to happen for the rest of your life? Were you realistic when you were seventeen? I wasn’t, but I don’t want to tell that to this week’s grads. I want them to be idealistic for a while yet. To think, for at least a few years, that they can do it all.


In the interest of full disclosure my yearbook has “Carpe Diem” as a quote, says I will be a future journalist [Does blogging count?], and lists me as conservative [Huh?!].


The graduation ceremony memory for this year’s Hillsborough class will involve the weather. It began sprinkling as the class filed onto the field. Everyone sang the National Anthem. The clouds got darker, the rain got harder, thunder rumbled, and everyone fled back into the High School. After about a half-hour of pouring rain, the clouds cleared, the sun came out, and a double rainbow appeared as the class proceeded back to the field to complete the ceremony.

After the ceremony (Commencement speeches about how far they have come and how far they will go, diplomas, beach balls, hat toss), as we pulled out of the parking lot, another thunderstorm hit.

There’s a life-lesson here somewhere for the graduates, that they may understand in thirty or forty years if they are lucky.