Friday, May 20, 2016

The Graduates

There is inevitably a countdown of events for me at the end of the school year. We used to have a night time ceremony for our eighth graders as they transitioned to their next educational stage but now we do a chapel service for the almost high schoolers and their parents.  What follows is the account of our eighth grade reception ten years ago tonight, reprinted from 5-20-06.

We had eighth grade graduation last night at Westbury Christian. Dr. David Lacey, our Upper School Administrator, pointed out to the audience that a more correct terminology would be commencement since we have yet to take our final exams which begin Monday. It was a wonderful evening. Being a small school with only thirty-eight in this year's class has its advantages, one of them being it is much easier to hold these types of ceremonies. Our grads-to-be looked terrific. The boys dressed up and the girls really dressed up. When you wear school uniforms, semi-formal occasions allow a tremendous contrast. Each honoree was blessed by one of their teachers. The student, along with their families, stood as the faculty member who selected them related fond remembrances and funny stories mixed with a hope for the youngster's future. I was responsible for four gentlemen- Philip, Winston, Evan, and Chris- as well as Kamri, a terrific young lady. Each student was awarded a certificate of achievement, allowing plenty of time for scrapbook-bound photos. The most emotional point of the festivities unfolded as Coach Reed Sutton delivered the testimonial for Ronnie Lane. Ronnie, the subject of my March 7 entry, has been out of school with a critical illness for the past several months and was unable to attend. Reed had the entire class stand as he spoke his tribute to a young man who has been a great example of bravery to all who know him and, vicariously, to some who don't. It was a touching moment, one of a number for this exceptional class of beginning teenagers. After the AMEN of the benediction, we adjourned to the fellowship hall of our church building for a meal and to view a video of the kids' baby and childhood pictures, set to music. Teachers and administrators are always the last to leave, cleanup duty being a prerequisite for the positions. I exited the parking lot shortly after 10 PM.

There is a belief that graduations have become overdone, that there is a ceremony for each level of school. I agree. We had no kindergarten or middle school commencement when I was a child. They require a great deal of planning and coordination to pull off, compounded by the fact that May is the busiest time of the year for schools. And yet, we would have missed something special without the ceremony of last night. Some children are never complimented in glowing terms publicly with a large audience at hand. Some never hear applause after the sweetest words in English, their own name. Some would never realize that they are indeed loved and appreciated, even cherished, by their instructors, who in some circumstances must be cast in an adversarial role. I know in our culture there can be too much heaping of praise on kids just to make them feel good, regardless if the adulation has any merit. I worry we suppress accomplishment, fearing that someones feelings are bruised when their name doesn't appear in the local newspaper with the listing of honor students. But what we did last night was good. I returned home proud of my students, proud of their parents, proud of my fellow teachers, and proud of our admininstration. Like every school, we have areas to improve in but we are headed in the right direction. I don't think I was alone in my assessment of the evening. As I headed down Willowbend Avenue to go home last night, I got the feeling the Lord was proud of Westbury Christian School as well.

Applicable quote of the day:
"Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened."
Dr. Seuss

God bless,
Luke 18:1
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1 comment:

Jon said...

Graduation was awesome!!!!!!!!!!