I got a sunburn for graduation.

Seriously!  We graduates had formed our line in one building, gotten our roses, and marched out across the fairgrounds to the other building where the actual ceremony was to be held.  We were a little too antsy, however, and they were not ready for us inside.  The butterflies in my stomach were bad enough already, and standing in the heat and sun in the middle of a line of strangers did not help in the least.

Strangers?  At my highschool graduation?  Well, yes, though it would seem odd to any public-schooler.  You see, I had only been a part of the local homeschool group for a few years, and had not been active in any of the programs during that time except for the convention.  I knew only three or four others in my graduating class of 104, and recognized maybe two others from volunteering at the convention.  I did not even recognize the girl in front of me, who I later realized had been in the homeschool choir during the semester that I was a part of it in my sophomore year.

That was probably the hardest part of the wait.  Not being able to talk to someone.  Watching others chat amongst themselves easily, though I could tell that most of them did not know each other either.  The two or three people to either side of me in line were quiet, however, and I was much too shy to start the conversation.

So there we stood, all hundred and four of us.  The front and end of the lines had shade from the trees which lined the path, but I, of course, was in the middle, forty-eighth.  In the sun.  I should have remembered to turn around to shade my face and neck.  I had been burnt before and knew that it did not take much sun to bring a rash.  Fifteen or twenty minutes of direct sun is enough to turn me quite red.  With my mind in a whirl, however, I wished for shade only because of the heat and did not take any precautions against the sun.  Besides, we were supposed to be moving inside very soon, so I was going to be all right.  So much for that idea!

Finally, after a fifteen minute wait, the head of the line moved, and we marched into the air-conditioned building to the strains of “Pomp and Circumstance.”  Our seats were waiting at the front of the auditorium, and we all relaxed, grateful to be off our feet for a few minutes while the commencement address was given by one of the keynote speakers from the convention.  No time then to think about how long I had been in the sun.

The surprising fact is that the sunburn is the thing I most remember now, although I did not even notice my itching neck until well after the ceremony, when the family had gathered back at my home for the graduation gifts.  Other memories of the event are sketchy, like fuzzy snapshots.  The girl who whispered that I had my rose on the wrong arm.  The boy, three grads in front of me, who dropped his rose just moments before he was due to go on stage.  Myself, standing with my parents on stage, looking out over those assembled and feeling ten feet tall.  Bits and pieces.  Those fifteen minutes in the sun, however, are still vivid in my mind.

Perhaps it was meant to help me grow up.

Life is full of little annoyances, but we look beyond them to the bigger picture, whether it is the closing of a chapter in our lives, or the completion of a science assignment.  We let the little details sort themselves out while we attend to the important parts of life.

And we learn to pay attention to the sun!

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6 Comments on “Graduation”

  1. Jennifer Whittaker Says:

    I am really enjoying your blog. I have always wondered what it was like to be homeschooled. My son and daughter are quite gifted and I sometimes wonder if I have made the right choice with public school. Just in case you are trying to think of additional ideas for blogs, I would love to hear about your relationship with your siblings!

  2. Kyle Stone Says:

    Hmm. I remember my graduation (public school, to be clear). I believe it had stopped raining about an hour before the ceremony was to start. I remember feeling a little silly – I had decided to do something a little out of the ordinary, and wasn’t sure how it would sit with my other classmates, friends, family, or anyone in the audience in general.

    My graduating class was about 70, our school colors blue and white. The guys wore blue gowns, the girls white. Yes, I wore a blue gown. That wasn’t what I did differently. Honor students were also given a golden sash, and I wore mine as well. But it’s what I did with the sash that I wasn’t sure would sit well.

    Throughout my high school years (from 7-12; we had no dedicated middle school) at the end of every year there was an awards ceremony. This would happen before graduation, but after all exams, and the teachers of the various classes would award the students they considered the best for that year with certificates and these small pins or badge of some sort. I had a nice collection of these in one of my desk draws by the time graduation came along, and thought it was kind of silly that I had them if I were never going to wear them.

    So… I decked out my honors sash with these various pins. I was worried that some might think I was being a little arrogant or showy. I didn’t intend to be either or those things, just wanted some kind of justification for not throwing away these pins long ago. I saw it as my last chance.

    The badges almost looked like medals of honor on a military uniform. None of my classmates hassled me about it – the most common response was “I wish I had done that.” Yes. I was the only one who came up with the idea.

    My favorite response from a non-classmate was from my Grandpa Dwyer, spoken after the ceremony when I went back to my family: “Gee, I don’t know whether to shake your hand or salute you!”

    No sunburn for me – but my face became red a couple of times when I considered how people my react.

    • So, a lot of needless worry… I would have been in the same boat, though I have to wonder if I would have thought of wearing the pins that way. I hope somebody got a picture of the hero(cough, cough), I mean graduate!

  3. […] seems like just last year, but my highschool graduation is now four years ago, and I’m getting ready to graduate again.  I have a feeling my college […]

  4. […] different from the highschool graduate who wasn’t paying enough attention to avoid getting a sunburn — no such trouble this time around since the graduation was all indoors in the Saratoga […]

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