Years ago, a principal I worked with was prone to saying that the two best days of the year are the first day of school and the last day of school. I am inclined to agree.
I live in a very small town surrounded by other small towns. This past weekend was the height of graduation season around these parts.
Driving through the area, there are balloons and banners on proud families’ front lawns. The signs outside of every school have well-wishes to the graduates. The local papers are filled with stories about the graduation ceremonies, the valedictorians’ speeches, and congratulations and advice from local leaders. In the center page of my town’s monthly paper, every senior is listed by name. My social media feed is filled with cap-and-gown photos. The steakhouse my son cooks at has been jammed with big groups celebrating all weekend long.
On the day before graduation, the senior class here dons their caps and gowns and walks through the halls of our elementary school while the youngest students in our district cheer them on. This year, the event was filmed and shared online. Like those teachers in the elementary school, I found myself tearing up. The graduates were giddy, and the young students were so excited to see the “Big Kids.”
And those Big Kids? Some are the younger siblings of my children’s friends. Some of them are the ones who have been catching the school bus at the end of my driveway for the past twelve years. Some are the ones that check in my library books on Saturdays. Some have had great school experiences. Some have really struggled to get to this day.
All of them are being launched into the world beyond our small town.
In these days, where so much feels heavy, and so much looks bleak, this ordinary milestone of graduating is a tangible sign of hope in our future. We take pictures and write news stories and share on social media and celebrate because we still believe that our children have good things ahead of them.
Class of 2022, every blessing on you all! We are rooting for you!