In just a few short weeks thousands of students will breathe a sigh of relief, and perhaps some regret, as they walk across a stage and receive a paper that says they have completed their high school education. For some it will be the end of classes and books and teachers. For others it is just the first phase in reaching their goals. My own graduation was rather unique. I was married, pregnant, and in college when I walked down the aisle with my high school classmates. I got married in my junior year, graduated in December of my senior year, and started college in January. I went back for “the walk” simply to be with my friends. I don’t even have a picture from that event.
High school graduation is an assumption these days, but it hasn’t always been so, especially for women. I recall that when we lived here in 1980 the average education level of the “mature residents” was the eighth grade, the level my own grandmother completed. Many women of former generations married as early as fourteen and education wasn’t considered necessary for a group that for the most part wasn’t going to work outside the home. My mother completed the eleventh grade; my father graduated.
My mother was a strong supporter of any and all education and often helped and encouraged local students. She edited papers and tutored low readers. My dad also treated many of the student workers at the DQ like grandchildren and attended their high school graduations. My parents were very proud of me for returning to school in my forties and getting my teacher’s certificate, although my mother didn’t live long enough to see me in my first classroom. They both thought they would be around to see the graduations of all of their grandchildren and perhaps even their great-grandchildren. Sadly, not so.
High school graduation doesn’t mean as much as it once did. It isn’t the “career launch” of the past. It isn’t a guarantee of a firm financial future. It is merely a step in the process of becoming an adult. There are many, many options for the “next step” and college is just one of them. But these days it’s vital that young people take that next step and do it quickly. It’s a fast-paced competitive world out there!
I congratulate all of the graduates and wish them the best of luck in their future endeavors.