It’s official. My youngest son has graduated from Great Bend High School.
I know this because he showed my that white slip of paper School Board member Wade Babcock handed him as he strolled across the stage at Memorial Stadium Sunday afternoon. You know, the little document with the school logo and the word diploma on it.
We joked with him that it was up in the air whether he’d get that paper or not. But, there really was never any doubt. He’s a smart kid.
I asked him if he felt any different, being a graduate and all.
In his typical, nonchalant teenage boy style, he said “nah.”
He had shed his gown, cap, shawl and the white cord denoting his cum laude status by the time he walked through the front door.
I asked if, at any point in the past week or two as his high school career waned, if he had felt any different.
He’s a lot like his dad and doesn’t stand too much on pomp, circumstance or sentimental mush. High school had run its course and it was time to move onward. If I’d been given my choice, they could have just mailed that diploma to me and saved the hoopla and boring speeches that no one would remember past the kegger that night. Oops. I probably shouldn’t have mentioned the kegger. Son, if you read this, ignore that reference. It was root beer.
I asked my wife how she felt Sunday. “Anticlimactic,” was her answer.
It was a let down. Not that the ceremony wasn’t nice, and the remarks made by the valedictorian, salutatorian and the high school principal weren’t brief and meaningful (brief being the operative word). But, you really can’t tie up and package 18 years of life and 12 years of education in a one-hour box.
I will say this: GBHS runs a very efficient commencement. They crammed “Pomp and Circumstance”, the “Pledge of Allegiance”, three speeches and the distribution of 194 diplomas into 60 minutes. Way to go.
I think, in many ways, my wife and I are like my son. We are just as set on the future.
But, no future is certain.
Things can change so suddenly. Things can end so abruptly, as shown in the tragic death of Trevor Greathouse, the Larned teen. He had just graduated on May 12 from Pawnee Heights High School in Rozel a week before he died in a car wreck Monday morning. He had earned several scholarships and was planning to continue his education at Fort Hays State University to major in corporate communications.
After hearing this, I got to thinking. After commencement Sunday, my son went to a graduation party in Larned. He drove. I drove to that party after my graduation as well. Wow.
Funny (strange, definitely not ha, ha). As parents we raise our kids, working through diapers, formula, burp rags, strained peas, sippy cups, kindergarten, grade school, Boy Scouts, summer camps, the teen years and high school. The goal – get them across that stage diploma in hand, bundle them up and shuffle them off onto whatever path they chose.
Then, when the last child leaves, friends ask if you’ll suffer from the “empty nest” syndrome. Those who have already experienced the final kid leaving say “oh, you will.” Those who are in the same boat as you say (with a fist pump) “Yippee!”
I’ve said before that we are not going to be the type of parents to sit around the house and sulk, pining for the chaos children bring to a home. We are looking forward to our new-found freedom.
Besides, we have dogs.
But, we still have had our other kids boomerang on us.
So, job done? No.
Out of sight, out of mind? Sort of.
No worries? Of course there are worries.
Speaking of out of mind, I almost forgot. My 30th high school class reunion is this year. It’s been three decades since I walked across that stage in the sweltering Ellinwood High School gymnasium.
We’ll get together, chat about times long past, try to remember just what those speakers said to use 30 years ago and discuss what our kids are doing now. We may count pounds gained and hairs lost.
There may be a keg involved.
I wonder, 30 years from now as my son and his classmates gather for their reunion what they will have to discuss.
Dale Hogg is the managing editor of the Great Bend Tribune. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.