Graduation

This is one of my favorite “pre-graduation” pictures that was taken in 2012.

The MVAOCOU high school gymnasium was going to be filled with family and friends on Sunday, May 17, as the graduates of Class of 2020 walked in with the band playing pomp and circumstance.

Instead, the gymnasium will be empty, no chairs will be set up, and no music will fill the air. There will be no graduates dressed in their caps and growns to walk across the stage to receive their diploma from Principal Dan Dougherty.

At this time, MVAOCOU has postponed their graduation ceremony until Sunday, July 12.

I have attended high school graduation ceremonies since I was 5-years-old. Yes, you read that right. I haven’t missed a graduation ceremony (the location may vary) for the last 24 years. You see, my mom is a senior class sponsor at her school and is pretty much in charge of graduation.

I never missed one. I loved to help her in any way, from handing out special cords to making sure you could hear the video, helping with last minute details, helping someone find their family in the crowd, and handing out programs (my favorite job when I was little).

What I remember most about helping her was watching all of the seniors gather together one final time as a class before commencement started. I could never count the total number of “selfies” that were taken.

It was the last time I would ever see some of these seniors and the last time they might see each other. That’s hard to imagine when they have spent so much time together over the last 13 years.

Today, one of my favorite places to take pictures on graduation day is in the high school library where all of the seniors gather.

At commencement, the senior class president or senior speakers give a speech to remind everyone of the highlights/memories over the past 13 years. Senior members of the choir will sing one final song together.

Family members and friends will be taking lots of pictures or making a loud shout when their senior receives their diploma.

Every parent/guardian should get to have that proud moment as they watch their child walk across the stage to receive their high school diploma after all of the hours of hard work and dedication that they and their senior have invested in that diploma. For some, it might be their first child that will be heading off to college in the fall, and for others, it might be their last child to walk across the stage.

My nephew graduated last year (2019), and I remember seeing the proud look on his parents’ faces when he walked across the stage with his diploma and all his honors.

While strolling down graduation memory lane, the hardest I ever cried during graduation was when one of my best friends, Jill, handed her mom a flower and gave her a hug after receiving her diploma (a special tradition at my high school). You see, Jill’s mom was battling cancer and passed away less than two months later.

Following commencement, everyone gathers outside to congratulate the seniors holding their new diploma. It is funny to see that it is the underclassmen who cry the hardest in the receiving line (but with social distancing, this more than likely will not happen this year).

Twenty-four years later, I still cry a little each year at graduation.

I hope these seniors get that chance on July 12 to gather one more time as the MVAOCOU Class of 2020.

While graduation is an important moment in a senior’s life, I know these seniors will continue to accomplish great things as they enter into the next chapter of their lives.

Best wishes to the Class of 2020.

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A side note: My mom is retiring from teaching at the end of this school year. After xx years as a senior class sponsor, I’m sure she never thought her last graduation would be like this. Each year, she puts together a senior class video to play during commencement. In true “Mrs. J” tradition, she still puts together a video for the Class of 2020. When she sent me the link, I think I cried even more than I did for the video she made for my class, knowing this was the last senior class video she would make.

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