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Grad-ual Improvement

I probably shouldn’t admit this, but I was dreading my Virginia granddaughter’s high school graduation. I expected to sit through long-winded speeches that would put a five-year-old on a sugar high to sleep. In my experience, giving advice to young people is like suggesting to Dolly Parton what she should wear. She’s already made up her mind and thinks she’s doing just fine, thank you very much.

As we waited, the band entertained us while the chorus sang “I’ll Fly Away”—a bit of tear-jerker, but appropriate. Once the almost-grads marched in, things got interesting. Remember in our day, we rented our caps and gowns? No more. Now the kids BUY both and can do with them what they want. Many of the grads decorated their mortar boards with the names of their colleges—a treat for this nosy, ex-schoolteacher grandma. I saw several UVA’s, and VA Tech’s—no big surprise there. But I also saw two Tuft’s, a USC, a U of Florida, a U of South Carolina, a Michigan and some others I wasn’t sure about. Maybe that big C was for Clemson, but it could also have been Colgate or even Columbia. 

top of graduation hat

One cap REALLY caught my eye. “Look!” I said to my husband. “That girl has flowers on her cap.” Turns out it was our own granddaughter who had bordered her cap in red and white flowers (her college’s colors,) with a big W for Wisconsin in the middle, and her anticipate major, Psych Ed. Since she was the only kid with flowers sprouting from her hat, she was easy to spot.

After they sat down, I groaned inwardly and thought, “Now the speeches begin.” What a nice surprise! Instead of adult speeches, students gave the only two, reminiscing about their high school days. One speech was especially touching since it was given by the child of an immigrant single mother. He concluded his speech in tears, thanking her. Something tells me that he will go far, and that degree in Mechanical Engineering from Duke won’t hurt.

I even enjoyed watching kids unrelated to me heading for their diplomas. Some scurried with tiny steps, obviously in a hurry to get off the stage. Others clearly enjoyed being there and took their time. Some stood up straight; others slumped like someone my age.

A couple of the students were challenged in one way or another. Each needed and received help from a classmate. Hmmm, maybe there’s hope for this generation after all. It does my Old School heart good to think about it.

1 comment

1 Comment

Ann Cody White
Ann Cody White
Jun 04

Very touching; very evocative.

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