The parenting journey is littered with stages and milestones that mark the passage of time and the getting of wisdom. Some of these milestones also represent significant gateways that irrevocably empower the individual and change the family dynamic. Our little family passed through one such gateway earlier this week, the one called high school graduation.
Two days ago we celebrated the Valedictorian Day of my eldest son, Future Baseball Star. It was a day filled with school tradition, of saying farewell to youth and a clearly defined path and embracing seniority and the responsibility that comes with empowerment for making decisions about the future. A day of hope and laughter, filled with promise and belonging.
The decision of where to send your child to high school is a weighty one. In this town it is usually decided and acted on at birth at which time your child becomes a name on a waiting list. We didn’t go down that road, largely because I wanted to choose a school that would match my child’s needs and personality and to make that call I needed something more to guide me than a bunch of foetal cells. In this town, the choice of high school is a favourite dinner party conversation topic and securing a place in a good high school is a competitive business.
We chose the boys’ high school because it felt right. Not because it was close, not because there was a family connection but because it’s student body comprised boys from all over Sydney and from diverse socio-economic backgrounds and nationalities. It felt right.
The traditions in which we participated on Valedictorian Day felt right.
The farewell song sung by the graduating year 12 class to the rest of the school at the Valedictorian assembly felt right. The engaging farewell speech given by the Head Prefect felt right. The announcement by the year 12 leadership of their year 11 successors and the symbolic handing over of their seats to the newly elected leaders felt right.
The farewell tunnel formed by the student body down which the boys of the graduating class marched to the beat of drums felt right. Watching the year 12 boys making their way through the tunnel whilst they embraced those teachers and mentors that impacted positively on their lives and shook the hands of the boys whose memories they wished to preserve felt right. Seeing little brother playfully punch his big graduating brother in the stomach at the start of the tunnel walk felt right.
Attending the boys’ final school chapel service at which the year 12 Head Prefect passed on a symbolic candle to a year 7 boy felt right. Certain year 12 boys each presenting to the school a symbol representing the areas of academic learning, pastoral care, community giving and co-curricular activities felt right. Hearing the year 12 boys shouting and clapping their way through their final war cry felt right. Sharing a valedictory lunch with our sons and watching them make the passing from “New Boy” to “New Old Boy” felt right.
Being forever part of the “New Boy” community and cheering on the black and white feels right. Being the mother of a high school graduate feels right. Delighting in the fact that I will have 50% less grey socks to fold and white shirts to iron feels right. Watching my child blossom and grow feels right. Handing my child the keys to controlling his destiny feels right. Supporting my son in the lead up to his final exams starting in three short weeks feels right.
Future Baseball Star reaching this milestone has created a new family dynamic. We now have a child with one foot firmly in the adult world and this is cause for celebration. Our stewardship as parents now enters a new phase and it feels right.
Congratulations to all of the boys who are part of the class of 2012, we honour your graduating achievement. It is now time for that last sprint to the final exams and to the destiny that you have worked towards for the past seventeen years, but more particularly during the last thirteen of them. You were the starting class of 2000 and reaching year 12 in 2012 is only fitting and feels right.
Good luck in the exams ahead!
Do you have any graduating day memories? If you have children who have graduated how did you feel about them passing that milestone? Please share.