One thing about living in a small town (under 8,000) is how everyone comes out to cheer on our graduates. Rain or shine we hold the ceremony out on the football field so that as many people as possible can stand, sit, recline as they root on children, siblings, friends, neighbors transitioning out from high school to the “real” world–I ponder this expression, but shall save for another post, another time.
This year the weather remained in the perfect mid 70s with a touch of balmy breeze.
I volunteer as one of the staff crowd control, which involves trying to look imposing enough so that anyone trying to edge up beyond the perimeter rope won’t even think about it. The look and stance usually last about the first fifteen minutes before someone sneaks past and then the inevitable breach occurs. Crowd control is annoying as well as fun. Telling people “please stay behind the line” when they only want a quick hug and photo op makes me feel a bit heartless. Yet, chaos would ensue if there wasn’t some attempt at decorum. Did I ever tell you about the time someone handed a grad a lit cigar as he approached the admin gauntlet and he blew cigar smoke in the principal’s face? Well, that’s one reason we now have a perimeter rope. It’s a rowdy crowd. I’m always amazed at how loud people can whistle, yell, or airhorn their sentiments to the exiting grads. I think having the ceremony on the football field must influence the enthusiasm.
We don’t invite in a fancy shmancy speaker–it’s all student-generated, except for a brief commentary from our principal. There is the Senior Class President, student nominated speakers, plus the valedictorian and salutotorian. Each speech varies in its focus. The range is humorous with last-minute digs at admin and staff and students to sentimental and sincere (“Thanks, Mom.”).
Then the pomp and circumstance and parade begins. In a twinkling all too soon, students cross the stage and emerge as adults stepping into the next phase of their life. As they turn up the ramp to take their bleachers there are last-minute congratulations and hugs. And the inevitable, “Please stay behind the rope–okay, make it quick.”
Yup, gotta love the small town celebration of life’s accomplishments.