This weekend saw us in the suburbs of Cincinnati watching a cousin graduate from high school. The class of 2010. I've got clothes older than these kids, some items of which I still wear.
The trip over and back was for the most part uneventful. We got a rental car-a decent one, a Dodge Charger with Sirius satellite radio. I love Sirius and if I had a long commute would have it in a heartbeat. Something for everyone there-40s on 4 for the 91-year-old, 70s on 7 for The Better Half, and 1st Wave and Roadhouse Country for yours truly. Recommended for any long trip! I'm surprised commercial radio is still around.
Anyhow, the graduation and ceremony went well. Our girl graduated with high honors and is headed for THE Ohio State University this fall. Oh, well, no one's perfect.
She'll do well there-it's one of the biggest universities in the country and there's something for everyone there.
For the overseas crowd that read this, I think high school for you is something to be endured and those years not looked back on fondly. The American high school experience is a bit different-I suppose we're a bit less disciplined, or a bit more free-wheeling. And the ability to have cars (with the ability to drive to dates or be a taxi service for your friends) adds a whole new dynamic. I don't know for sure, but there seems to be a palpable difference in those last four years of education between what we do and what, say, the Australians or British do. You all may learn more-but I think we have more fun!
The graduation ceremony, though, is still kind of moving-I think more for the parents and friends of the graduates than for the graduates themselves. I remember at my own graduation thinking possibly like many veterans-Just skip the ceremony and give me my papers-I'm outta here!
But with a few years under my belt, I see it in a different light. These kids came into the scary halls of high school four years ago as nervous freshmen-still children in many ways. Seniors sat at the right hand of God and what they said pretty much went! Over those four years, they matured, laughed, cried, developed relationships, got together, broke up, shared the common experience of perhaps a tyrannical teacher or a bad meal in the cafeteria or a big football victory on Friday night or stealing the rival school's mascot. All too soon those scared freshmen became the old hands of the senior class, making their marks in the community-and scaring the hell of those baby newbies from junior high. Finally, senior year culminates in graduation-the speeches, the diplomas, pictures with family and friends, post-graduation parties lasting into the next day, promises to always keep in touch with people sometimes never to be seen again.
For some, there'll be a summer 'off' (except for working), then off to community college or a four-year college-places like Ohio State, University of Kentucky, or Stanford. Some will go right to work, starting their careers without secondary education. Still others will head off to Fort Benning or Parris Island or Lackland to learn the military art. Some will get married right away, others wait to start a family. Whereever their lifepaths take them, they'll only have this moment one time-the moment that in a lot of ways marks the passage into adulthood.
I told Julia when I saw her after she got her diploma-"Congratulations. Now life gets hard."
From now on, the world doesn't care whether these men and women succeed or fail. It's up to them to make it happen. I know a few that will do well and make us proud.
This class of 2010 was mostly born around 1991-1992. What changes they've seen in those years since most of us here went to school! For the class of 2010, the Cold War and the Soviet Union are as ancient as the Roman Empire, but they've spent half their lives in the shadow of terrorism and shooting war. We went to a library to look up things. The class of 2010 googles everything. We wrote on blackboards, watched films and filmstrips, and lugged books. The class of 2010 does PowerPoints and carry laptops to school. We were thrilled to have a pen pal four states away. The class of 2010 IMs people halfway around the world. Culture? Nirvana and Echo and the Bunnymen are as curious to the class of 2010 as Elvis and Bill Haley and the Comets were to us. Interesting to try to look at life through their eyes. So much promise. So much of life ahead of them.
Like in every gradauting class, though, we'll see how they turn out. In a decade or so, the class of 2010 will return to their hometowns for reunions. How they'll be living then may be quite different from what any of us thought-for better or worse. Most of you may not care for the Statler Brothers as a country music act, but they did have a song about the Class of '57-which for a change of the number could be any group of graduates anywhere in the world:
Tommy's selling used cars, Nancy's fixing hair,
Harvey runs a grocery store and Margaret doesn't care.
Jerry drives a truck for Sears and Charlotte's on the make,
And Paul sells life insurance and part time real estate.
Helen is a hostess, Frank works at the mill,
Janet teaches grade school and prob'ly always will.
Bob works for the city and Jack's in lab research,
And Peggy plays organ at the Presbyterian Church.
And the class of '57 had it's dreams,
Oh, we all thought we'd change the world with our great works and deeds.
Or maybe we just thought the world would change to fit our needs,
The class of '57 had it's dreams.
Betty runs a trailer park, Jan sells Tupperware,
Randy's in an insane ward, Mary's on welfare.
Charlie took a job with Ford, Joe took Freddie's wife,
Charlotte took a millionaire, and Freddie took his life.
John is big in cattle, Ray is deep in debt,
Where Mavis finally wound up is anybody's bet.
Linda married Sonny, Brenda married me,
And the class of all of us is just a part of history.
And the class of '57 had it's dreams,
But living life day to day is never like it seems.
Things get complicated when you get past eighteen,
But the class of '57 had it's dreams.
Oh, the class of '57 had it's dreams.
We hope, though, that our lady Julia, and all of her friends and comrades that graduated this year, has the stuff to change the world-or at least their corner of it!