Even if I did have to stand out in the hot evening sun for upwards of an hour or more and then sit out in the thankfully dissipating heat as the sun went down for another hour or more, it was worth it. I’m referring to my attendance at the high school graduation ceremony of my granddaughter.
Somehow I feel as if it was a major milestone in my own life. I only wish that my other half, who has departed this world, could have been there with me. I mean it really began with us in a way, didn’t it?
Certainly it was bigger than my own high school graduation. I did not even attend the ceremony then, and that was my fault. I collected my diploma the next day. I had a poor attitude, to say the least (I did have an excuse. I was recovering from the measles. But it was going around and the school authorities had told my parents I could attend — my bad, as they say these days).
Thankfully, my granddaughter has a good attitude. She has worked hard and done well in high school and from all reports had a lot of fun in the process, so good for her. The way it should be. She’s preparing to attend the local community college in her area and then transfer to a four-year college. Right now she plans to go into nursing.
From all the reports I got, her studies were a lot more rigorous than mine, but saying that does not do justice to the high school she attended. From what I gather it is a top school.
Back when I graduated, in 1967, the main requirement to graduate at the high school I attended was to show up. Like Woody Allen said, “half of life is just showing up”. I’ve used that before. But I like it and find it so true. But that’s only half. There is a more demanding second half to all that.
I would be remiss not to mention how she benefited from the support of her parents, and I am stressing the moral support and encouragement. I have not been with my granddaughter for long stretches of time all these years but I do know that from the beginning she was self-motivated, and I’ll get back to that. But even for those who are self-motivated, encouragement on the home front can make the difference. There are those unfortunate children who grow up in homes where the attitude toward education is indifferent. That was not the case for her.
But my late wife and I noticed this girl’s self-determination from an early age. I recall just before she entered kindergarten (she had already attended pre-school) she was visiting us and my wife was trying to help her on with a belt to an outfit. But this little girl wanted to do it herself. And I think that is her way. People like that tend to be successful, I think.
And today I thought back with sadness that my wife could not attend her own graduation. You see, we got married and that interrupted her schooling. But a few short years later she completed her requirements at night school. And let me tell you, people who do it that way have to demonstrate a lot more knowledge and skills than many of us who did it the more standard way. I now wished I would have encouraged her to see if she could have attended a graduation ceremony. She deserved it.
Seeing the enthusiasm of those graduates the other night and the enthusiasm of their parents and grandparents and loved ones and friends made me realize that all that pomp and circumstance is important (and to be fair and accurate, this ceremony was a little shorter on, but not bereft of, pomp and circumstance than ones I‘ve seen back in the old days).
Sure, in the long run there are no guarantees to success through life and a graduation ceremony in and of itself does not equal education, but it is nonetheless an important element.
It allows the graduate to feel she or he is being recognized for an accomplishment and encourages the graduate to press on for more accomplishments, and it shows respect to the institution attended and education in general. We can hardly expect to maintain a top education system without respect to the institution of or whole concept of education itself.
And whose idea was it to show up early and wait in the sun anyhow?
Oh, well, it was worth it.