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CLAYTON RYE

By Staff | May 27, 2011

This past weekend my nephew graduated from high school. As I watched the ceremony, perched on a bleacher along with many other family members and friends of the graduating class, I found myself trying to remember my high school graduation ceremony from way back in 1965.

I can not say I remember that much of it. I remember it was a June night with the temperature and humidity both in the 80s. Relief came about 9 p.m. with a huge thunderstorm.

Someone decided the senior class band members should play something for their graduation. So we musicians of meager abilities who were more interested in having fun than being musicians were assembled for one last performance.

Whoever was in charge picked a song that seemed appropriately titled, “Look for the Silver Lining,” a song I had not heard of until then.

We practiced it enough to be familiar with it while I am sure each of us was wondering what made this necessary.

This did create one of the most memorable parts of the evening for me because, maybe it was the humidity, but when we performed we were horribly out of tune although we had tuned our instruments before the evening’s performance. I repeat, we were not just out of tune, but horribly out of tune.

Our lackluster performance combined with instruments that were more fighting with each other than playing together resulted in a great sense of relief when it finally ended.

I remember the eyes of my fellow band members as we looked at each other when it ended were saying, “Was that as bad as it sounded?”

Yes, it was.

The graduation speakers, like most speakers at graduations, were forgettable. That is noteworthy because I was one of the speakers that night.

There again, someone decided that the graduation speeches should be given by four of the graduation class members.

We were each given a topic and told to prepare a speech. We were assisted by one of the English teachers to make sure that what we had to say was delivered to show that we were prepared for our future and looking forward to it.

Our speeches, while neither spectacular nor memorable, were an improvement over what our reluctant little band did that evening.

It was a relief in many ways when we finally took off our caps and gowns from our sweaty selves when the ceremony ended.

It would be interesting to hear what my class mates remember of that evening 46 years ago.

My nephew’s graduation lasted one hour, start to finish, which shows that whoever planned it knew it was more a matter of let’s get this over than trying to create lasting memories that will last until we get outside the gymnasium door.

The school superintendent gave a brief speech to the class and, as befitting most graduation speeches, I have forgotten what was said. It was gone even before I reached the exit as I left the gym.

I did see in my nephew a fine young man who is prepared for his future and looking forward to it. He has enlisted for four years in the Marine Corps and leaves in only a few weeks. All of us are very proud of him.

He is leaving high school in much the same way as I did. We both attended classes, probably learned a few things along the way, some of them intentional and some unintentional.

Both of us had good friends with a few who were close friends. Both of us can say school was a good life.

My nephew’s learning will continue. In the coming weeks and months, he will learn what a sheltered environment school was for all those years as expectations will be placed on him by his superiors and society in general.

After 46 years, that has not changed.

My dad graduated from high school in 1933 and, if he were here, I am sure he would say it has not changed in 78 years. We crave adulthood and once there, look longingly back on those high school days that at that time were more carefree than we knew.

The future is waiting.

Rye is a Farm News staff writer and farmer from Hanlontown. Reach him by e-mail at crye@wctatel.net.

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