So the Older Maker Teen graduated from high school last week! A
chapter book has closed on his 13 years of (mostly) public education. It was a surprising journey, and not is a good way. Filled with few unexpected delights, it’s not one of those “I would do it all over again” kind of stories. Not at all. I’ll save ruminations for my book, should I ever get around to writing it.
At any rate, graduation, hooray!
There were three times during the ceremony that the members of the graduating class stood and applauded:
The first time was for a classmate who most (all?) of the students had never seen walk before. They stood and whooped it up for her as she slowly made her way across the stage on crutches . It was sweet to see them cheer her on.
There was a member of the class who finished school a semester early to work and save money for college. She was hit by a train a few months ago. Her classmates stood as her name was called a one of her relatives accepted her diploma. That was touching in an entirely different manner.
The graduates gave a final standing ovation for another classmate who made his way across the stage on crutches.
Someone later mentioned that this student always walked with crutches, so it didn’t seem as special as the wheelchair-bound classmate. It’s a given that this student faced many challenges along the road to earning his high school diploma. I certainly don’t begrudge him a standing O.
That boy’s disability is physical. It’s obvious and apparent. It got me thinking about other students who struggled to reach graduation day. There are so many. This is high school, people. While some might need to dig a little deeper than others, it’s likely that each student there overcame a significant personal obstacle in the last four or more years: learning disabilities, mental health issues, sexuality issues, sexual abuse, drug and alcohol use or addiction, or was deeply affected by a family issue, like divorce or death. Or maybe the struggles were more generalized ones related to defining themselves as adults.
The struggles are real.
There’s so much we outsiders don’t know and can’t see about these graduates. So much we’d never guess about the members of the class, especially the ones who seem to stroll effortlessly across the stage.
So, I offer the class of 2016 my own little standing ovation. I applaud them and wish them well in the years ahead.
And I raise a glass to their parents because I know most of them have been on a wild roller coaster ride for the last 18 years. And holy heck, how’d we get this old?