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Graduation Day

May 19, 2016
by Dan Voigt , Emmetsburg News

It's the time of the year when a full range of emotions can be found at any given instant. if you are in grades Kindergarten through 11, your primary focus is to count the number of days remaining in your school year until you burst out the doors into Summer vacation.

If you are a senior, you are counting the very seconds until you've checked out, and can't wait for a Sunday afternoon when you and your classmates down caps and gowns and march into the gym to the strains of "Pomp and Circumstance". Then, the countdown becomes even more unbearable as you wait those impossible minutes and seconds until your name is called, you walk across the stage, shake the hand of an administrator or board member (or parent, in some cases) and you are handed the envelope containing that precious diploma.

For a few, the next most important thing in the world is to pull that diploma out of the envelope, open it and make sure it has been signed. I've seen it done on stage and I've seen it checked out while walking back to a seat, but usually, that diploma is checked as the new graduate sits next to their classmates in those final seconds as they wait for the instruction to turn their tassels to signify their graduation.

Hats may fly in the air, cheers may ring out, and most assuredly, some tears will flow.

Graduation is a momentous occasion in a young person's life. In our society, it signifies that a young person has advanced from youth into adulthood. Graduates have choices to make - many will continue their education in colleges or technical schools, some will enter military service and others will join the working world.

I've been to a lot of graduation ceremonies over 25-plus years in this profession. I've heard many a speech where a senior references their years in school as something akin to a prison term, referring to teachers as guards and administrators as the wardens. Such comments usually draw chuckles from the audience and the graduates, and are quickly forgotten.

I remember some similar verbiage from graduation back in the day when I sat in a gown in a hot gym, waiting to get my diploma and get out. (No, I?didn't check the diploma until I was back in my seat, either!)

It was a new experience to not be in high school any longer, and even today, I'm sure that when August rolls around, some members of the Class of 2016 will start to get the old twinges of needing to get ready to return to school.

I've seen graduates show up to watch pre-season football camp; some studying what the upcoming season would have to offer, and some to offer "encouragement" to their underclassmen friends who have flighted up through natural succession.

I've also seen graduates return to high school months after graduation, usually during their freshman year in college, to visit a favorite instructor, and in many cases, tell the instructor that what they had taught in their classrooms actually helped them in a class in college.

If I?can offer one piece of advice to our graduates, it would be this: Never forget where you came from - no matter where you go. You may think that small town life has done you no favors, but over time, you will come to realize that your being has been shaped not only by your parents and family, but also by your community and friends - Remember them, treasure them, and always know they will be there for you. Congratulations and Good Luck!



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