The day had finally arrived. After turning in all my assignments and making it through finals, my last day of high school was here. Little did I know the rest of the week would be one of the fastest weeks of my life.
We only had to stay for half a day, so long as all our teachers signed us out of our classes and someone checked our lockers and library account. While most of my classmates and I were checked out before the first bell rang, we spent the morning visiting with teachers and handing out last minute graduation invitations to friends.
As we lined up for our final checkout with our counselors, we were handed our caps and gowns, honor cords and unofficial final transcripts, which listed our class rank and overall GPAs.
With graduation four days away, most of my classmates enjoyed spending time at the pool and cruising town, but I still had one final assignment to complete. As the senior public relations officer, I was in charge of the senior slide show and banquet festivities planned for Friday.
Working with the class president, we organized a pizza party at Pizza Madness. We both arrived early to set up the restaurant and check the projector. We also looked through the certificates, making sure no one was missed. As a class, we selected who fit into our class characteristics. Some of the categories included most likely to become president, most school spirit or most likely to compete in the Olympics. Those certificates were handed out during the party as a final celebration before Saturday’s commencement.
With the honors and scholarship ceremonies over, all that remained was commencement.
I returned home to a full house as my grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins had come to celebrate my achievement. The only person missing was my dad.
Since I was enrolled in fall classes at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, my dad had transferred to work in Greeley. He was already working up there and had to drive down Friday evening to attend graduation. Although he arrived late Friday evening, he was still the first one up Saturday morning, ready to document the day.
As the rest of my family continued to get ready, my parents and I made our way to the high school. Always early, we were the only ones at the high school except the principal and counselors. As my parents made their way to the football stadium to secure their seats, I reminded them to listen to the song the band plays as we prepare to throw our caps.
Walking up the school steps, I headed down the hall into the back of the gym with only the sound of my heels echoing off the walls. The gym was empty and I sat waiting for the rest of my class to show up over the next hour.
It was time.
Walking behind the football bleachers with smiles on our faces, we could hear our families cheering and blowing air horns.
After finding our seats, we quickly realized it was warm. Luckily for me and the rest of my female classmates, our gowns were gold. The guys were in black gowns and dress pants.
With the speeches over, it was time to receive our diplomas or should I say a fancy cover with nothing in it.
Walking around to the stage, my classmates and I counted down how many people were in front of us. Then it was our turns and I was first. With my cover in hand, I made my way back down the center aisle to see my entire family waving at me from the front row. Once my friends and I returned to our seats, we turned to each other and said congratulations and gave each other high-fives.
After a brief moment of silence, the band began to play. It was my song I told my parents about. Sitting in my seat, I got my parents attention and point to the band. Confused, they try to figure out what the significance was of the song. I lipped “Pirates of the Caribbean.”
Growing up, I was a Johnny Depp fan and dressed up as several characters he portrayed, so it seemed only fitting that my high school career would conclude with the “Pirates of the Caribbean” theme song. As my row made its way out, my dad signaled to do a salute as a way to remember the moment.
That picture is the first thought that comes to mind when I recall my high school graduation. It was a moment in time that signified my accomplishments and the end of a chapter while also representing moving forward to my next journey in life.