'Tis the season of graduation parties and it seems, for me at least, getting involved in something graduation-related is pretty much inevitable at this time of year.
For work, I've written about all-night graduation extravaganzas, held for the entire senior class of a school to celebrate together one last time. This weekend and last weekend I've been running between graduation parties, as I'm sure many people are at this time of year, congratulating the graduate with a suitably funny graduation card and some sort of gift card to help them deck out their future college dorm room, trying to not eat cake at every single house and looking through a lifetime of pictures highlighting the lives of each of the kids.
The graduates are usually pretty proud of their accomplishments, their parents are equally ecstatic and in general I think a bit of celebration is warranted for a milestone like graduation.
Honestly, though, I don't remember much about my own high school graduation ceremony. As a certified band geek, I'd sat through three Marquette Senior High School graduation ceremonies, mainly for the purpose of providing the obligatory playing of "Pomp and Circumstance,"?prior to my own graduation. I also sat through eight Northern Michigan University commencement ceremonies (fall and spring for four years), so maybe my view of graduation at this point is a bit jaded.
What I do remember from high school graduation is going to Picnic Rocks with my friend Jessica in our caps and gowns and striking the Karate Kid pose on top of the pilings that line the parking lot there after the ceremony rehearsal. I remember complaining with my friends about how awful the commencement speeches were, even though there was no way I'd have been brave enough to offer a speech myself. I remember - having graduated with a large class - watching my classmates cross the stage and not recognizing some of them.
Mostly I remember just being generally happy not really for the act of having graduated, which had never really been in question for me, but just to be able to move on to something else.
For me, the idea of a graduation celebration has always been something like a wedding. It's nice to have a party, of course, but the really important part is not what happens during the graduation, but what you have done previously and what you do with yourself afterwards that makes the big difference.
The point of high school is to go to class, do your homework, learn what you're supposed to learn so you're ready to do whatever it is you want to do for the rest of your life. Or maybe just find out what it is you want for the rest of your life or just the next couple years, however far ahead you want to look.
I hope this year's graduates enjoy their big day. I hope they let their parents take as many pictures as possible and crow over how their babies have grown up, which is certainly something I wasn't good at. I hope they continue to smile as the millionth person asks them what the heck it is they're going to do next.
But I also hope they remember that this is just the start. That's why it's called commencement, isn't it?
Johanna Boyle can be reached at 906-486-4401. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.