The high school band plays “Pomp and Circumstance.” Robed seniors march to rows of chairs as family and friends wave, clap and aim cameras. Everything now is for the show of the ceremony.
One senior is still feeling the effects of the fair-well drinks with friends last night. That senior obviously got home safely, mostly because he had someone else drive him home. Another senior is without a girl friend now. She had insisted on something he has chosen not to do until he gets married. That was a very tough decision.
The seniors listen to the valedictorian and salutatorian. On senior who barely made the grades listens with a little envy, but is still glad she had not quit school because it was too hard and to “do her own thing.” Another senior prays that her classmates will forget that she used to supply them with ... well, stuff that dogs are trained to find. Because of too many frazzled nerves, close calls with the police, and an empty void where true friends should be; she’s given that up. Now if she can keep living this new life. Another senior had rejected alcohol and other drugs because younger brothers and sisters were looking up to her as an example and for guidance. One young man waves to his mother and step-father on one side of the gym, and to his father and step-mother on the other side. Confusion is part of growing up. One young lady waves to her mother. People say she turned out pretty well, considering she had to deal with her father’s death, but she knows that her father is sitting right beside her, and always will be.
The principal and superintendent hand out the diplomas. One senior shakes hands with a strength and confidence that weren’t there a few years ago. Being even a benchwarmer turned out better than not being part of something. Win or lose, he had chosen to be on the team. A huge student shakes hands somewhat gently; his bullying fists have turned into the coordinated hands of an athlete. The principal especially notices the hand of one student. The faint nicotine stains are gone; one young person has kicked the habit. Walking down the stage, one senior feels the car keys in his pocket. The keys actually belong to his parents. Not buying his own newer and fancier car will help pay for the first year of college. Summers will be full of hard work to earn more money for college, but that choice was made with a goal in mind. The senior behind him will not go to college. He is the last of his parents’ children to graduate and he has decided to continue working on the family ranch. College is not for everyone. He is at peace with this.
The ceremony is over. It may have been a graduation ceremony, but not the real graduation. These young adults had already graduated. Each has had their own courses and own tests. In varying degrees, they all passed. Now they go onto other courses and tests ... and hopefully other graduations.