1. Ahh, finally after finding a parking spot and hiking the parking lot and locating family members, I get to sit down at last. What a nice stadium! I’ll just glance at the 2016 Commencement Program and what!!! There must be ten thousand names on the class roster. Where’s my nephew’s name? It’s the only name I want to see. Oh! There he is way back at the very end of the program’s one hundred thousand names (I’m sure my previous estimate of ten thousand wasn’t correct). Wow, there are certainly a lot of Brittanys and Taylors in the world. I don’t see any Bronwyns. No, not one. Too bad my nephew has the name Wilson because if he was an Allen, for example, he’d be the first to get his diploma and off to the after party.
2. What? We need to stand and say the pledge of allegiance? I hope I remember it. Guess I do remember it as it just comes right out of my mouth as if I said it yesterday instead of years ago.
3. The four students playing the National Anthem on their trumpets are exceptional. Why did my parents let me quit the school band when I asked to drop out back in the fourth grade? “I want to quit,” I said, “because practice makes my lips hurt.” My parents said, “Okay.” No speeches about life is hard and to accomplish anything we can’t be quitters. I think maybe they were desperate to never listen again to my trumpet “practice sessions” at home. I do think my mom placed cotton in her ears about the same time I told her I would be in the back room playing the Marine’s Hymn on my trumpet. Still, if they had insisted I stick with it, who knows? I might be a world-renowned trumpet player today.
4. Oh, the principal is talking now. She seems like a nice lady. She uses the word “respect” a lot. I wish our son had a principal like her when he attended high school.
5. The student body president is speaking. What was the inspirational quote she just stated? It was an Eleanor Roosevelt quote and I like it. I should write it down before I forget it. It was, let’s see, I can’t remember now. What did Eleanor say?
6. Now one of the ten valedictorians is giving the Senior Address. Did he just take a selfie? He did! At the beginning of his address, he stopped and said, “But first a selfie.” Does he want to Facebook friend us all also?
7. The commencement program has a notation at the bottom asking the audience to observe the dignity of the occasion by not whistling, yelling or using noise makers when your special “graduate’s name” is called. I agree with my niece seated on the other side of Jerry. She said as she pointed to the notation, “Forget that!” My nephew specifically asked me to hoot and holler for him and besides, everyone else is screaming their heads off when their student’s name is called. Some are using air horns. Why didn’t I think to bring an air horn? My nephew is too important for me to observe the occasion with silence. Or dignity. He deserves recognition for everyone in our family is so proud of him, so whoo hoo for you dear nephew who is going on to college to become an electrical engineer.
8. We’re only at the H’s in the name-announcing, diploma-awarding process. I think I’ll rest my eyes until we get nearer to the “W’s.”
9. At last, it’s now only an hour and a half later and we’ve reached the T’s. I notice the principal posing for a photograph with each student after she hands out the diploma. That’s a lot of smiling for one hundred thousand students. I bet her face hurts. I wish I hadn’t graduated in the middle of my senior year. But I had enough credits, so I took my diploma in January and got a job. By the time my high school class graduated, I was a working woman and high school seemed far in my past. Still, I don’t have a photo of me posing with my principal.
10. Oh, Oh! We’re at the W’s! I’m ready to hoot and holler. I hear his name now, Donald Edward Wilson. Whoo hoo hoo, I’m flapping the program in the air for added effect.
11. What an elegantly presented ceremony! I’m glad I came. There’s something special about being a part of a moment where you witness the changing of one chapter in life to another. Without the pomp, the walk, caps with tassels, the speeches, and the air horns, school merges into life without special notice. So Donald! Jerry and I applaud you, and are grateful to know you, and to have had the gift of bearing witness to your accomplishment.
Now…if I could only remember the quote by Eleanor Roosevelt…
Well, since I can’t remember what Eleanor said, here’s another inspirational quote for you to ponder!
“Follow your passion, stay true to yourself, never follow someone else’s path unless you’re in the woods and you’re lost and you see a path then by all means you should follow that.”
— Ellen DeGeneres