I have been a teacher for seven years now, and every year I go to graduation as part of my job. It’s just one of many obligations. Some years, you’re sad to see the students go; other years, not so much.
My first year, though, was also the first year that our school had a graduating class. They were pioneers. They had never, in their high school career, watched older kids go through their senior year and graduate. Many of them had never expected to graduate. Their peers had dropped off along the way, but these few, these lucky few, were the ones who had made it, and now that they were seniors they were somewhat surprised and delighted.
I loved that senior class. They did not take anything for granted. When people did nice things for them—like organize a senior dinner, or a picnic—they appreciated it. They said thank you. Which may not sound like much, but when you’re dealing with teenagers, it is.
When graduation day rolled around, our first ever graduation, it was a big deal. The staff and the students walked in a procession around the block and back into the building, as bagpipes played. The ceremony took place in the gym, not any place fancy, but it didn’t matter. The kids were so excited, their parents were excited, and so were we. I looked up on that stage and I felt like I had really done something worthwhile.
I’ve been to five graduations since, and there have certainly been emotional moments, but I’ve never again felt that same overwhelming sense of love and pride as when the class of 2009 walked up on the stage to accept their diplomas.