What is the significance today of high school graduation?
Is it still the major milestone or even the “Major Milestone” some make it out to be?
Certainly it does not have the educational significance that it had one or two generations ago, when the vast majority did not finish secondary school.
Today, of course, all grads know that, no matter what their career paths, their educations are just beginning.
For some, the 12 years they just completed in elementary and secondary school could be just the halfway point, with four years of university, four years at grad school, and another four years of post-doctoral study before they are truly qualified in their particular field of work.
For those going into trades, they know that to get their certification they face several years of formal training plus several more as an apprentice.
And then there is the fact that today most people go through several trades or professions during their lifetimes, meaning there really will be no end to their education. “Lifelong learning” is the phrase.
Why then do we make such a big deal about high school graduation? Why the caps and gowns, the fancy dress prom, the friends and relatives coming from across the country to participate?
The real significance to high school graduation is that, for every graduating class, there is at least one person on that stage with the others who, after all the ceremonies and final exams are done, the others will not see again in their lifetimes.
This thought is especially meaningful in a small rural school, where nearly all of the graduating class have been together since kindergarten, or before.
Maybe that person will have a career in some remote corner of the globe and never return.
Maybe that person didn’t really care for high school and has no interest in reliving unhappy memories by coming back for reunions.
Or maybe that person will pass away. It happens, you know.
So grads, treasure these moments together.
Celebrate with each other but remember to do it safely.
Do not drink or, if you feel you must, do not drink to excess.
Do not drink and drive. Do not get into a vehicle being driven by someone who has been drinking. Do not allow someone who has been drinking to drive.
Always remember that you do not want to be that person who the others will never see again.