In two days, I will be attending my 10 Year Class Reunion. In these days, I will take the opportunity to look back on ten of my favorite elements of high school (in no particular order of importance)…
#2 – Graduation
Thirteen years had lead to that night.
Kindergarten at St. Monica’s. First and second grade at Ben Milam Elementary. Third through fifth at Ada Henderson. Junior high at O.J. Thomas. Finally Yoe High School.
Hours of classes. Hours of homework. All the organizations. All the events. The love. The pride. The friendships that would fade. The friendships that would last a lifetime.
It all culminated on May 29, 1999 at 8:00 pm on Yoe High School Athletic Field when we stood for one last time as one unit. We were and are the Class of 1999.
The day of graduation started with practice both on the field and in the gymnasium (in case of rain). We came really close to having to be in the gym, as I remember the sky having a distinctly greenish tinge to it, as storms churned and billowed in the area.
I sat ranked 13th in my class. I would be heading off to Temple College in the fall, followed by Texas A&M University in College Station. I would soon be a member of the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Class of 2003, along with many of my Yoe High classmates. We had future Texas Longhorns and Southwest Texas Bobcats. Baylor Bears and Texas Tech Red Raiders. Some would be going straight into the work force. Others would be getting ready to start families.
However in that moment, in that place and time, we were all on the same page. The whole world and our lives ahead of us. We were jumping off into it with the safety net of our education but without any guarantees. However, we had in our hands, inside the maroon leather cover, our high school diplomas. And that was enough.
I think everyone in my class will agree that one of the most memorable parts of the night was our salutatorian reading Dr. Seuss’ “Oh The Place You’ll Go.” We had the oldest daughter of our school board president in our class, and I remember her hugging her dad when she got her diploma. We sang “On Yoe High” one last time. We turned our tassels and stood poised to dash across the field.
As the night ended, we knew not what the future held. And somehow, it didn’t matter. We’d done it. We’d made it to our graduation night. We had something to celebrate.
Friends and family swarmed the field. Pictures were taken and there were hugs and tears. Most of my class went on to Senior Celebration that night after graduation. I opted to celebrate at home with family. I also had obligations at church early the very next morning, so I skipped my class party. Therefore, when I look back on graduation, I realize that it was the last time I saw and spoke to many of my classmates.
These people were a constant for me. I had stood beside them. I had learned beside them. I had played with and relied upon them for the last thirteen years. Suddenly, that would no longer happen. I was excited for my future. But I also mourned the loss of these relationships.
I look back upon that night as a huge turning point in life. It was a step from something familiar out into the great unknown of life.
Life is a still a great unknown… but my educations (high school and college, the practical, social and academic) have given me the tools to navigate through it, one challenge, failure and success at a time.