This weekend is Graduation Weekend here in Happy Valley. The ceremonies over these three days mark the culmination of an academic year that started with an earthquake and lead to, in some ways, the end of our world as we knew it. Here are just a few of my somewhat random thoughts about this year’s graduation:
1. I noticed something for the first time today that, once I saw it, I wondered why no one had ever done before. Three resourceful families were tailgating graduation--one complete with canopy, plastic wine glasses, and champagne! Genius!!! You're going to be stuck there for a good while, you might was well start celebrating instead of complaining. :)
2. I think I may have underestimated one of my male students all this time. Today under his blue graduation gown, he had on a bright kelly green shirt with a very, very loud pink tie. He was one of two boys not wearing a white shirt and blue tie or blue shirt and gray tie (the other was wearing a gray t-shirt and rumpled jeans and looked as though he rolled out of bed hungover, wearing whatever he went bar hopping in last night, threw on his gown and strolled off to graduation). Again, genius! His family surely had no problem picking him out.
3. As I was walking down to the Green Room before the ceremony, I noticed two girls walking in front of me wearing what had to be 5” stilettos. I thought to myself that every year the heels seem to get higher and higher. During the ceremony, a few of my colleagues made the same observation. Some of the stilettos and platform shoes were so high as to be awe inspiring in a you-know-there’s-going-to-be-an-accident-and-yet-can’t-look-away kind of way. This is one of those few days in your life when everyone really IS watching you; is it really the day you want to wind up in a cast from falling off of your own shoes??? The winner of the Most Female Graduates in Reasonable Footwear award goes to Recreation, Parks, and Tourism Management, in case you wondered.
4. At the end of the ceremony, during the singing of the Alma Mater, one of my colleagues nudged me and motioned for me to look behind me at our students. The entire group of them was not only singing, but swaying back and forth to the song, arms draped around each other. It was an adorable and touching sight. During the 4th verse, their voices swelled to be heard above the pit band and the thousands of spectators. They confirmed what I suspected at the fall graduation ceremony: that this new enthusiasm for the words and meaning of their school song has become a new tradition. The refusal of these resilient young men and women to be cowed or shamed by others and their determination to hold their heads up to look for solutions to the problems they are confronted with is both awe inspiring and humbling. I have never been more proud to be a teacher, and I will always be proud to have been their teacher.
Congratulations, Penn State Class of 2012!