June 18, 2017 by readlisaread
My dear reader, I apologize for the long delay between posts. I’ve been in a vortex of work and non-work high demands, and while it’s been a really fun and engaging spring, it has been hectic. Let me bring you up to date, and the themes are:
Care to play along?
My youngest is graduating high school this year, and last night was the Grad Banquet. It’s been interesting to notice how the Grad celebrations have grown and changed over the years. Thinking back to my own graduation (1983. W00t), we did have a banquet separate from the walk-up ceremony, unlike earlier grads who had both celebrations in one (crazy) night. It required a fancy short dress for the banquet, and a fancy (usually long) dress for the walk-up. and in my case a corsage for both, and a fancy hairdo for the walk up. I recall the Banquet taking place in the same space as it still does today, in the community centre, but that our meal was (get this) Chinese food from the next door restaurant, served in take-away containers which we passed around savagely. Dancing followed.
The walk-up ceremony was a much different beast, with different pressures altogether. Besides the fancy hair and dress, there was the Who. Ok, no, not The Who as in Pinball Wizard, but the Who, as in Who are you going to Walk Up With? Walking up required leaving the standing-around-awkwardly in the mustering area together, traversing the width of the community centre gym and then parting ways at the stairs as each grad’s name was called, and then possibly sitting together in the bleachers for the remainder of the ceremony. In retrospect, this does not seem like a big deal, and indeed, it is not a big deal today. But in 1983 (w00t), it was a HUGE deal. By that time in my school career, I had a boyfriend (who had long since graduated high school, and who did attend the banquet with me) and I worked part time in an office, and I wasn’t (then) going on to post-secondary, so I really wasn’t that immersed in the high school culture (what we might call Drama now). In any event, as the Grade 12 year progressed and Grad Plans were made, the Who are You going to Walk Up With (WAYGTWUW) question became THE question. And while two friends MIGHT walk up together, IF they were both girls, really the ONLY reason they would is because they couldn’t find boys. Boys MIGHT have walked up alone, but never with another boy. Around about March or April, I remember a class mate asking me WAYGTWUW, and when I replied I hadn’t really done anything about that, she gasped, horrifyedly, and said “You better hurry! All the good guys are almost gone!”. Let’s unpack that little gem for a moment, shall we? Ah, misogyny, 1980’s style! Anyway, needless to say, I did not attempt to recruit from the remaining pool of “good” guys, and instead, looked around at my group of friends and tried to lobby a group of 3 with my bestie and a mutual friend, but he nixed the idea, saying he thought “Three people looked weird”. I bet had he known how popular 3-ways were going to be in the next century he would have leapt on the offer. But I digress…
Besides banquet and walk up ceremony, there wasn’t a lot else organized for grad celebrations. Every year, for many years, there was an inevitable bad situation involving unsanctioned Grad parties, alcohol and vehicles. The “Dry Grad” movement began, and continues to be a wonderful, fun and rich way for the grads to gather and to celebrate one last time together. But still bad decisions led to bad accidents, and on the heals of “Dry Grad” came “Wet Grad”. This is where our liberal rubber hits the literal road (or something). A parent-organized and sanctioned event with alcohol, supplied by parents, held in a secret and secure location where kids can do a little practice-adulting. I’m of 2 minds about it, as I’ve always had a pretty alcohol-tolerant approach, and think we could actually see better results if we didn’t make alcohol such a mystery. On the other hand, how much time and effort should go into celebrations that mark completing the easiest part of one’s life?
Watching the grads last night alight from limos and buses and even a firetruck, and walk the carpet past the applauding crowd, I sum up my feelings with a borrowed quote, uttered by a graduate a few years ago. Amidst manicures and hair do’s and dresses and gowns (yes, plural) and limos and accouterments, she allegedly said to her mom (footing the mounting bills and suggesting her graduation was costing more than a modest wedding celebration) “Mom, I can get married a bunch of times, but I’m only going to graduate once!”.
But that little cynical note aside, a particular heartfelt nostalgic note for me: The grad class of 2017 marks the leaving of school of the second-to-last group of kids I taught as a classroom teacher, and the last of the Prevost Middle school kids. In teacher parlance, this time next year, all of My Kids have graduated. To have them turn as they passed me on the long walk on the carpet and say “Oh Hey Ms. Read!” was cool beyond measure. That I will miss.
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