Present word count of WIP: 56,872
He’s done. He graduated. He walked with the Class of 2012 on Friday evening, and received his fancy diploma holder (minus the actual diploma, which will arrive in the mail soon). After moving his honors tassel (he graduated magna cum laude) from the right to the left along with all the other graduates, he tossed his cap in the air.
Of course, he was careful to toss it only so far so that he could quickly and easily retrieve it. After all, Jason didn’t cease being Jason upon graduating.
It was interesting to me that I didn’t get emotional during the ceremony, though my feelings seemed to cut through to my heart like a sharp knife slicing through a doughy loaf of bread. I watched as he walked in through the honor guard of academically robed faculty toward his assigned seat to the strains of “Pomp and Circumstance.”
My eyebrow rose as he then walked straight past his row toward the front. Was he making a major faux pas? No, I realized, seeing his destination: the three small risers set up in front of the dais for the “Senior Choir.” As soon as all the seniors had entered and taken their places, everyone in the sports arena was asked to stand and face the flag as Jason and his fellow graduating seniors from Richland High’s Chamber Choir sang “The Star Spangled Banner.”
Afterward, they took their assigned seats and the welcome and speeches got underway. Two things that were memorable:
First, a young man from Egypt, one of the nine graduating foreign exchange students, surprised and touched everyone when he seized the podium for a moment to give a sincere thanks for his experience here, saying “I will never forget you.” Considering the political turmoil to which he’s returning, I am sure he won’t.
Second, in talking about success, one of the valedictorians quoted the poet, Maya Angelou: “Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.”
That spoke to me because I found that to be a measure that would work for someone like my son. So many of these graduates are headed away from home either immediately or once the summer’s over–to college, jobs, or the armed forces. Perhaps they will measure their success by the world’s standard: a degree, an increase in salary, or a promotion in rank.
In the end, however, it’s the inner measure that truly counts. How happy are you? Do you like yourself? Do you like what you’re doing and how you’re doing it?
And that brings me to the true moments of joy I felt and witnessed as I watched Jason end his high school days this past week and a half.
At his final choir concert, Jason was named “Most Inspirational” among the Chamber Choir members and you should have heard the roar of approval and cheers from all his friends. That’s when I got emotional. I think it even surprised Mr. Fryhling, his director.
Again, as I watched him with his friends after the graduation ceremony on Friday (and at yesterday’s Open House honoring the graduates at our church), I was struck by how far he had come since his pre-school days.
It was a surprise for me because, unlike elementary school where parents are allowed to hover a bit, helping out the teacher as their cover, middle school and high school are practically “No Trespass” zones (unless they happen to be teachers there, as well).
Sure, he made friends in elementary school, but they were perhaps a handful at most. And he spent time with them as much for the toys they offered as for camaraderie.
But these high school years have brought Jason true joy. Check out his smile in this picture with his friend, Harrison, for example. That is no pasted on smile. That is true happiness.
And, in the end, that’s all that counts in my book.
I can’t be sure about what lies ahead for my son, but I know he’s already gained two things that last forever–knowledge and friendships.
Originally posted 2012-06-03 09:41:13.