Pam Webb

a writer's journey as a reader

Archive for the tag “seniors”

Just Another Smalltown Graduation

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.


Having a Senior Moment

Today marked the last day and first day for a group of seniors.  As we wrapped up their visual essays that little old epiphany popped up:

“Hey guys, do you realize this is the last class on the last day of your high school career?” I obviously was more impressed with that fact than they were. I offered up the Kleenex box, but no takers. There’s no room for tears when there is cheering going on!

Wanting to capture the moment before they all split in separate directions I said their exit ticket required five memories of AP Senior Literature.  Silly me, I was thinking they might mention any of the following:

  • “I sure appreciate knowing how to properly apply anaphora and polysyndeton when emphasizing my need for repetition and parallelism.”
  • “Having learned the significance of water when reading literature makes me want to run right out and grab a copy of Moby Dick this weekend.”
  • “I wake up in the middle of the night craving yet one more reading of Prufrock’s lovesong.

No. None of that. Instead they popped off these memories:

“Your cow jokes.”

“The story of how you met your husband and made polenta for him.”

“French day. All that bread and cheese and fruit we enjoyed when watching Cyrano de Bergerac.”

Nope. All the labor spent on creating scintillating lesson plans went unnoticed and instead the personal aspects is what became memorable for them.  Lesson learned: The best teaching comes from learning to set aside the plans now and then.

I’ll miss this batch of seniors, we’ve had our share of moments, that’s for sure.  Saturday is graduation and once they leave behind high school I wonder if they’ll take along some new friends with them–Jane, Janie, Lizzie, Darcy…

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