Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Graduation Day

I held my breath. It was all I could do. My nerves were acting up, and my mouth was gaping open. Graduation day--it had finally arrived. Friday, May 29, roughly 350 students from Ola High School graduated and took that long walk across the stage. That long walk petrified me.

Pomp and Circumstance was playing; a pause, and Mr. Iddings, our principal, introduced the class of 2009 to those sitting and standing near the bleachers. We marched in two single-file lines and made our way through the gate. The closer we got, Alex, Brittany, and I could see the plethora of parents, relatives, and friends that packed out both sides of the stadium. Adrenaline rushed through me, and I thought I might faint. I have always had horrible stage fright and loathed being the center of attention--this was no different. My arms locked up from what I believe was a slight panic attack. But I could not stifle my excitement.

Luckily, on this crisp, May evening, the wind blew just enough to keep me from burning up beneath my emerald robe. "Breathe," I kept reminding myself. I have lived eighteen years, and just graduated after completing twelve years of schooling, and yet, remembering to breathe was the hardest task ahead of me as I walked along the field and to my seat. The administration went through several ceremonious speeches, the senior chorus students sang a song, and then, row-by-row, each one of us rose together and walked to the stage to--as tradition and our practices have taught us--shake hands with a few important people and receive our diploma holders. I was standing at the edge of the steps and my heart was racing. I could hear Brittany behind me saying, "Oh my gosh, Jennifer, we have made it!" Assistant principal, Mr. Shedd, called out the name "Jennifer Lynn Gleason," and I took my first few steps across the stage.

My family, Melody's family, and fellow classmates that still sat waiting for their turn, cheered. Chills ran through me, and a bright smile covered my face--despite the fact that my insides churned and I felt like I could have vomited on Mr. Iddings nice shoes. I walked to Mr. Iddings, shook hands, took my diploma holder, continued on to shake hands with two more people, and walked down the steps on the opposite side of the stage. It was over. That was my moment. I held a nice pose for the photographer, and then proceeded to my seat.

We sat patiently as the other half of the class did the same. We all stood at our seats as the administration congratulated us, and the chorus sang our alma mater.

Raise your voice, for the days of Green and Gold we proudly lift up high.
Through the years sharing tears and laughter, our memories never die.
All our dreams and hopes begin here and continue through our lives.
We will always remember our days at Ola High.
We will always remember our days at Ola High.

Our class president took the stage and gave us a speech on doing the best we can, and together, we moved our tassels from right to left. Cheers and screams emerged from the class and we threw our caps into the air in celebration.

It was easily the most exhilarating and rewarding day of my life. After twelve years, I finally got to hear my well-deserved, "Good job, we're proud of you."


  1. Monday, May 24, 2005. Packed inside the auditorium at the nearby county college.

    I took my seat in the stands, then each senior stepped forward to their seat on the floor to "Pomp and Circumstance," played by the JHS band. As class salutatorian, my place was 2nd in line between Mayra and Marissa. The top 3 in the class took the front three seats on stage, and the class officers took the back.

    I sang with the choir- "You Raise Me Up"- my second to last choral performance, State Solo being my final. Immediately, I had to hop back on the stage and deliver my speech to the 232 graduates, their friends and family, enough to fill a large auditorium/gym. I have performance anxiety, and panic attacks, but I didn't that day. Just pure fear. Nevertheless, I made it through my speech, then again took my stage seat, where I felt like everyone's eyes were boring through me like a screwdriver.

    I watched as each person around me stood up to receive their faux diploma. I was the last one left sitting on stage, after the other class officers, valedictorian, and historian- last name beginning with W. Some of my family was in pure shock at the size of my graduating class, as they graduated in classes of less than 50 people.

    Finally, toward the end, my name was called, and I finally got to leave my seat on the stage and join the rest of the graduates. As soon as the last name was called, congratulations were given, and we tossed our caps. Then we got lost in a sea of blue and white, graduates finding their families, band members, choir members, etc.

    I'm hoping my graduation from college, if I choose to walk the stage in December, is thrilling as well. I know this is an old post, but congratulations. Well written, too.

  2. Lol, thanks.

    And congrats on getting to your second graduation. :)


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