High School Graduation Still a Major Milepost

Today, tomorrow and Saturday are very much about High School graduation in my family.  Today, my daughters’ school celebrated Class Day – the day to celebrate the winners of many various annual awards, culminating in the announcement of the Salutatorian and Valedictorian of the graduating class.  Tomorrow, the school will hold Baccalaureate – when selected groups of the senior class perform for the school community and the families of the graduating seniors.  Then the actual graduation occurs on Saturday, after which the graduating class is loaded onto a bus for a last overnight retreat before they scatter for the summer and spread across the nation and the world for college next fall.

I was surprised, delighted, amazed, and incredibly proud to see my older daughter announced as Salutatorian of her class.  My wife and I had received a “Top Secret” email from the school last week telling us that our daughter would be winning an award and that we should plan to attend, but we expected it to be the award for being the top student studying Chinese (she is one of two graduating seniors that have taken Chinese for all seven years since enter the school in sixth grade).

When our daughter’s name was called as the Salutatorian, my wife happened to be looking directly at our daughter – she was absolutely shocked.  The students thought that they pretty well knew who had the highest GPAs in the school, but the quiet “stealth” students turned out to be the holders of both of the top GPAs.

I was thinking back to my own high school graduation – almost exactly 30 years ago today.  Many of the people in my graduating class had no plans for further education – they were either going to work for Dan River Mills (if they lived in the city) or planning to plant a field of tobacco (if they lived in the country).  For them, high school graduation was a huge demarcation – the end of being a child/student and start of adulthood.

Over half of my daughter’s class has been together since sixth grade, and it has been a privilege and pleasure to watch them grow from awkward young girls into accomplished young women.  They are ready to head on to the next stage of their lives, even if graduating high school no longer is the demarcation between student and adult that it was in my time.

They are ready to take on the world.


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3 responses to “High School Graduation Still a Major Milepost”

  1. John Burnette says :

    The cool thing is that this won’t be the high point of her academic career. 🙂


    Wait, did she also with the prize for being the top Chinese student?

    • Graham Burnette says :

      Since the Valedictorian is not Chinese, I guess she is the top Chinese student.

      • John Burnette says :

        OK, so I did mean the prize for being the top student studying Chinese, but the joke sorta falls flat at this point. Here’s the point I was trying to make – as a teacher, I’ve actually never cared for the entire prize day sort of thing. It’s so rare that any school actually takes to time to celebrate the gifts of ALL their students and what truly makes each special – and not just rehash the recalculation of grades yet again.

        In Libby’s case, I’m sure it’s been very obvious that both of your girls are extraordinary young women whose academic ability and drive is but a tiny part of what makes them so special. All of her candles are burning bright, not just the one for GPA.

        That, by the way, was the moment I was most proud to be your younger brother, when you so quietly but forcefully spoke truth to power at the national honor induction. If you haven’t told that story to Libby, now would be a good time.

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