High School Graduation: Times Past
Was high school graduation a big event for you or did it pass unnoticed. As a city baby boomer high school graduation was not an event that my school, at least, made much of a fuss about. I believe that this may have well have changed with different generations and certainly by geography. I know from the American television shows (Gidget, Happy Days and numerous movies) that in the States high school graduation was quite different to what mine was.
Baby Boomer, rural central school in western New York state, graduation 1971
A central school in the sates means it services multiple towns. I attended K – 12 in the same sprawling building with essentially the same 60 students all 13 years. There was a Catholic school that fed us about ten students at the start of seventh grade. We not only knew each other, we knew the whole family and pets too.
Up until my junior year I was one of the popular kids and included in their activities. My mother had gotten sick during my freshman year and my grades fell so my senior year I was in classes with students I knew, but had never been close with. Mom died November of my senior year and that distanced me further from the “crowd.” I recently talked to a high school classmate, first time in 45 years, and she told me, “We didn’t know what to say, so we didn’t talk to you.” It’s nice to know, finally, it wasn’t all me. I’m really glad there are now grief counselors and people talk about death and it’s repercussions.
Graduation itself was cap and gown with Sunday best underneath. Each student was limited to five tickets because of the size of the auditorium. People with large families had a problem with that. My father, who until my mother’s death had rarely attended anything to do with school, was there, along with my Aunt, my older sister and her boyfriend, and my boyfriend. Dad reached in his suit pocket and pulled out his reading glasses that we had been searching the house for on a daily basis. We had a good laugh, the last time he had worn his suit was at mother’s funeral. He probably said something like, “Guess I should dress more often.”
I received a $200.00 award for having the highest average of a student entering a near-by two-year college. A couple of my fellow male students kidded me they would have done more homework if they had known there was money to be had. It felt good to be ahead of them for once.
My guests and I went back to my aunts to cut a celebratory cake and that was that.
01/16/2018 at 14:47
Thanks for joining in Susan. You have given a type of schooling that I didn’t know existed in the States. We have a similar small school system here but only for primary school. If the students can’t reach a major town for high school there parents have no choice other than boarding school or home school. It must have been so hard for you when your mother died and to then have lived with the belief there was something wrong with you that the kids didn’t talk to you would have been difficult. Death has been a taboo subject for so long but I think that is starting to change. I presented a paper on writing death at a death and dying seminar last year and was pleased in the amount of interest the seminar generated. People I think are learning to talk and as you say now, for schools, there are counsellors to help deal with it. Although you had the ceremony your graduation sounds as if it was a low key affair. Thanks for your memories Susan.
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