Posts Tagged ‘Graduation’

Twenty-five years … can that really be possible?

Twenty-five years ago today I walked with my peers, down the aisle of our high school gymnasium to “Pomp and Circumstance,” wearing a burgundy cap and gown, smiling happily, thinking that this was the most exciting moment of my life. In my mind, life was about to begin, once that diploma was in my hand, and my cap was tossed in the air.

I graduated from a small rural school, in southern New Brunswick, along with fifty-eight of my classmates. Most of us got to school by bus. Kindergarten was not experienced by all, or even most of us, as kindergarten was still a private business.

Most of us started school in 1975.

We started school in the days of the ‘strap’, and graduated in the early days of the more emotionally feelings-based, psychological approach to discipline. We went to school in a time when you actually did not know if you would ‘grade’ until you saw your report card. We had mid-term exams in December, and finals in June. Our passing grade was not half way (50%), but 60%.

We dressed in bell bottoms, shoulder pads, miniskirts, turtle necks, neon colors, leg warmers, and Aviators.

We had wings, afros, and mullets. We parted our hair in the middle, to the side and had bangs. We used gel, mousse, Love’s Baby Soft and Brut.

We listened to disco, pop, country, heavy metal and classic rock.

The futures of many were to continue studies, but there were at least as many who were heading directly into the workforce. Since that night of anticipation of the future, we have had peers who have already passed into death.

As a group, we have had marriages and divorces, children and pets. There are those who have never moved from the village (yes, I grew up in a village … my own kids thought that villages were only part of fairy tales, and laugh loudly when the subject of my home ‘town’ comes up), and those who have lived around the world. We have worked in commerce, in business, in so many trades, in education, in health care, in marketing, in peacekeeping, in childcare and in our homes.

Many have done what they intended to do twenty-five years ago, and many have taken very divergent paths.

Our school motto, “esse quam videri” means “to be rather than to seem.” This sounds like a great motto for a high school, for I would hope that a young adult would leave school understanding that reality is better than imitation, that being yourself is better than being like everyone else.

As I am no expert in Latin, I checked it’s deeper meaning, and it’s origins. It would appear that it comes from a writing by Cicero. He was a wealthy Roman, in the last century of BC. He was a lawyer, a politician, an orator, a philosopher. Our school motto actually was part of a larger sentence in his writing “On Friendship”

“Virtute enim ipsa non tam multi praediti esse quam videri volunt

Which translates; “few are those who wish to be endowed with virtue rather than to seem so.”

Maybe it is because I am old, or maybe it is because I work in a high school, or maybe it is because I am the mother of teens, but I have much greater appreciation for the entire text than for the three part motto twenty-five years later!

Virtue goes beyond being real. Virtue is moral or ethical excellence. It is not just being yourself, but it is being the best YOU, that you can be. It is not just being excellent in and of yourself, but so that you can impact those around you. It is not perfection, it is effort! Truly it is the work of blood, sweat and tears. It is not about being, it is about doing.

Twenty-five years later, I have learned a precious lesson. My life did not begin when I had the diploma in my hand and my cap tossed in the air … but every morning that I awake, with the opportunity to chose to be the best I can be (for others) … that is when life begins … again, and again, and again. It is a life that is new and fresh every morning.

To those who I share this anniversary of common place and time, my thoughts and fun memories are with you today. May we all live the next twenty-five knowing that life has neither begun nor ended yet.

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Graduation happens tonight for two of my three students (boy, do I know how to work myself out of a job). And, as with many ‘formalities’ in our lives, it takes me back … way back!

It has been twenty-four years since I graduated from high school, and twenty-two since I graduated from college with a certificate/diploma in drafting (that I have only used for ten months professionally, and for twenty-two years, designing my dream house).

I vividly remember the excitement of shopping for a dress for prom, our grad song (“Lean on Me”), planning what to do after our graduation ceremony, and looking forward to gifts of money …

In my small town of 1600’ish (at that time), high school graduation was HUGE! People from the community would come to watch the grads enter the school for prom (it was there because, in such a small town, the school had the largest facilities), to ohh and awe at the gowns, the spiffed up guys, and now they come to see what they will arrive in (apparently combine harvesters are not unusual now in that rural village). People from the community would come to the ceremony, like it was a community event … because it was!

University was not the goal of most of my fellow grads, although many did go … for a year (or, in my case, a few months) and a number even graduated. Many did go to college. But getting a job was the main goal for most … in a day and time when ‘you need to have a university degree to succeed’ was preached regularly preached at us. I am still, twenty-four years later, amazed that educated people can think that any one path works for all … obviously they forget that the people who fix their broken cars, unplug their septic systems, and wire that new outlet all do so without an undergrad! But, I digress …

Last nights graduation also took me back a year, to my oldest daughter’s graduation from high school. I still get ‘mamma guilted’ for not shedding a tear at that event (so she thinks 😉 ). To be honest, there weren’t many tears shed around her graduation. Not because I was not proud, but because graduation from high school is so … common today.

And that is a good thing.

But also, for my first born (who works her butt off), school (the academics of it) is not a huge struggle. Now she does well, because she works so hard, but she is an academic. So, for her, graduation was more of a celebration because it marked the beginnings of more study, just in an area she is more interested in … psychology (and it marked the beginnings of her study of us … her family).

For many, though, having society-imposed academic hoops to jump through is the greatest struggle of their life! And for those students, high school graduation (whatever ‘title’ their diploma has … dogwood or evergreen) is their finest moment … so far …

Thankfully, graduation from high school is just a step on the ladder of life … IT IS NOT LIFE itself! High school is just a very small microcosm of of life itself. It is not a predictor of future success (Winston Churchill failed grade 6), it is not the finest moment of life (there are so many that do not come until after high school graduation … like, following your passion, whatever it might be), it is not necessarily the place where people know you best (and I mean classmates, as well as teachers … give it about two to four years, and the light of who really knows you best will be ignited).

For the students I was paid to assist, as well as all others, congratulations … but don’t stop climbing … the peak of the mountain is just barely in view … and it’s all up from here.

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