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Golden Years


June 5, 2011 by wcobserver

One down, four to go.

My oldest son graduated from high school last week … and with any luck the remaining four will do the same over the next 12 years. Probably not my luck … but I may get someone else’s … you never know, a girl can dream.

Now I admit it’s been a long time since I’ve heard Pomp and Circumstance… probably since I graduated myself. But in my recollection, most graduations have a little more “pomp” and a little less “circumstance” than the one I just attended. For instance, when did people start wearing cutoffs to a graduation?  I mean… sure, I know things have gotten more casual over the years, but I would’ve bet money that the people in front of me were lost on their way to a fish fry rather than going to a graduation… that is until I saw them pull out an air horn when their daughter’s name was called.

​It struck me as odd that someone would blow an air horn at a graduation, especially since the principal had just specifically, and rather long-windedly, asked people not to use air horns. At the time it seemed like sort of a random thing to request. After all, it’s not like we were at a Lakers game. Who would use an air horn at graduation, right?  In my mind, he might as well have said, “please refrain from throwing live chickens on the stage while your child is receiving his diploma.”

But sure enough, there were at least five different people who not only brought air horns, but ignored the request to keep them silent. I was wondering if they’d really thought it through since blowing an air horn directly after your child’s name is called, is sort of like a vandal spray-painting his own name in graffiti on a brick wall. But there appeared to be more high school graduates on the stage than in the audience, so I shouldn’t have been overly shocked.

​And what happened to keynote speakers? Maybe I missed it. But as far as I could tell, the graduation I attended had a lot of build up… but no getting there. There were introductions for the Superintendent of Schools, the President of the Board of Education, the Principal… It felt like there were introductions for the people doing introductions. But where was Billy-Bob Thornton or Mary Steenburgen or even Jerry Van Dyke if times were tough? I’m not picky. I would’ve taken a local news anchor or politician. Heck… how about the class valedictorian? But give me a speech.

​For those of us who have heard it all before, some of what is said at a graduation can border on cliché. But for those hearing it for the first time, graduation speeches are magical. They send these kids out the door with a sense of wonder, accomplishment and potential.

Graduating from high school is more than just an end to compulsory schooling. It is the moment when we give our children the freedom to choose their own paths. It is the celebration of early adulthood and a chance for mentors and families to say, “we believe in you.”

​So class of 2011… Congratulations! We believe in you. But if I only have but one wish to give, I say this… May you always have a suit in your closet, an air horn at your disposal… and the wisdom to know that one is rarely ever used with the other.




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