Graduates are moving forward

Published 5:31pm Friday, May 24, 2013

For the past three weeks my social network news feeds have been bombarded with pictures of high school graduates posted by proud parents, their siblings and friends. From pre-graduation parties to their last day of school I’ve been able to watch some of my young friends — and kids I used to babysit — embark on the next step of their life’s journey. And it’s truly hard to believe that six years ago, those students were me.

Graduation is bittersweet. It’s exciting to move towards the next step in your life — unsure of what lies ahead, who you’ll become and where you’ll end up — but with moving on, comes leaving things behind. The people and places you once saw everyday will in a few months become memories.

Covering graduations for the Times-Journal this week has been an interesting experience. Watching students I don’t even know cross the stage, move their tassel and smile and wave to their cheering family and friends — I’ve felt a lump of emotion creep up in my throat. Although I’m not a part of what these students are experiencing, I know what kinds of experiences lie ahead of them and what precious memories they’re leaving behind.

Thursday night I watched students don tiny white caps and gowns at Leika’s School, while hundreds of parents and friends gathered on the lawn outside to catch a glimpse of their child or sibling as they sang songs, recited Bible verses and finally received their diploma. Many parents and grandparents in the crowd cheered with tears in their eyes as their precious babies ran barefoot from the stage, clutching their flower and scroll — they saw what I saw — these sweet, little children were growing up. Next year they’ll be going to first grade and in the blink of an eye they’ll be at their high school graduation.

I learn a lot of things on the job — where to find a good story, how to talk to people when they are grieving and how to apologize when I’m wrong — but one of the things I’ve learned, especially during my first year in Selma, is how life goes on.

I can write about a fire, a murder, an award winner and a community event one day, but the next day those things are forgotten and it’s time to move on. Everyone is looking ahead, waiting to see what news tomorrow will bring. And that is something we just have to embrace — that we are constantly moving forward.

So whether you know someone who is graduating from kindergarten or high school this season, know that even though they are growing up and moving forward, they are heading towards even greater things that are yet to come. So hold back those tears and cheer with them as they cross the stage and walk into their future.

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