by D.J. Reimer
& Andraya Hamilton
On June 14 Reedley High School’s class of 2013 graduated! I was thrilled to watch my son Joseph Ham graduate and would also like to congratulate the rest of the class of 2013. Two of KRL’s young writers share below their graduation day!
Graduation Day-Andraya Hamilton
Graduation day was something I had been waiting for since my first day of kindergarten. It was always something that was alluded to, something that I knew would come but wasn’t quite within reach just yet. It was always a goal in the distance that I could see, but couldn’t touch.
Senior year flew by for me. It felt like a week rather than a whole year of classes, assignments, college applications, and everything else that comes with being a senior. When I woke up on graduation morning, it was just another day for me-other than the fact that my house was full of family members I hadn’t seen in seven years. My grandparents, Nancy and Dave, along with my three cousins, Meghan, Kayla, and Adam, all traveled from Alaska just to see me walk across the stage and get my diploma that evening. They drove for four days in order to see me graduate. My Aunt Brooke also traveled from the San Jose area. That’s how big of a deal this day was for me and my family. And even though I wanted to spend the day with them, I had a mandatory graduation practice to attend.
Graduation practice was, to be honest, a drag. Four hundred something seniors forced to sit in the hot sun and go over everything that they needed to know how to do later that night. Although the practice did come in handy, clearing up all the unanswered questions we had, going over directions for our entrance, exit, and the walk across the stage, and reassuring us that yes, we were capable of doing this. We were graduating! The reality of the day still hadn’t hit me at that point though. All I wanted to do was go and spend time with my family and get ready for the real thing.
After practice, I went home and spent time with my relatives before it was time to get ready. My grandpa talked to me about college, my cousins asked me all about life in high school, and my parents constantly fought back tears, even though they tried to act like they were perfectly fine. I was so happy that my family had made it that I didn’t even have time to be nervous about graduation.
Around four o’clock I decided that it would probably be a good idea to start getting ready, so I did. My mom did my hair for me, I did my makeup, and finally, I got dressed. When I walked out of my room, my whole family got emotional. My day was finally here. I had done it. I was graduating high school and I knew they were proud of me. I was definitely proud of myself!
Everything was a little rushed after that, though. The leisurely pace of the day had disappeared, and I was swarmed with family and cameras. Not being a person who’s big on taking pictures (with myself in them, at least) this was not my favorite part of the day, but I knew that I would regret not having the pictures later, when I wanted to look back on this day. When pictures were taken and everyone was pleased with how they looked in them, we left the house and were on our way to the high school. That’s when I started feeling the butterflies in my stomach. That’s when it became real for me.
We got to the school and after a quick goodbye I left my family to head to the locker rooms for graduate check-in. Once inside, I put on my cap and gown and settled in to wait until they called us to get lined up. I mingled with other students, laughed about the memories I had made, and just enjoyed my last moments as a high school student. I was really happy that there were teachers milling around with the students, and I was able to tell some of my favorites that I was thankful for them and say a final goodbye. When I saw Mr. Blocker there, my old history teacher who changed schools the year after I had his class, I was thrilled. He had played a big part in my journey in high school, despite the fact that I had only known him for a year. Another teacher whom I was happy to see there was Mrs. Hardcastle. She has taught me so much, pushed me and encouraged me, and has made me a better writer (and person) both in the classroom and personally.
When the seniors were called to get into formation I was unbelievably happy. I was so proud of the person I had become, and I couldn’t wait to walk across that stage and get my diploma. This was the last day of one stage in my life and the beginning of another. The ceremony passed quickly for me, but I think that was just because I was so excited to see my family afterwards and show them my diploma. It also had to do with the fact that I could see another one of my aunts in the stands with the rest of my family. She had shown up to surprise me, and I was so thankful that she was able to come.
The rest of the night was rushed and hectic, but also amazing. The ceremony ended, all four hundred something seniors were done with our high school careers, and we were about to go and celebrate. The chaos outside of the lockers, in front of the PAT, and in the parking lot was crazy, but there was an energy of happiness and excitment that everyone could feel. I found my family, was nearly suffocated with hugs, and forced to take even more pictures, but I couldn’t stop grinning. To quote one of my favorite novels, I felt infinite. As we all should have. We had all accomplished something great, something we could all be proud of.
Congratulations Class of 2013. We made it.
Graduation Day-DJ Reimer
Today is graduation. I don’t feel any older, look any older, and I certainly don’t act any older, but it doesn’t matter, graduation is tonight. I wake up feeling very indifferent about the day: This year was such a blur. I had many accomplishments as well as a few failures along the way. I’ve had to put up with frustrating obstacles that stalled and sometimes weakened my agenda. I’ve had some of the best laughs and loudest screams of my life. This year made me stronger, why can’t I remember it?! No matter. I need to get to practice.
I ride into my usual motorcycle parking space in the parking lot. I don’t recognize the school. I head over to the football field where our practice is being held. I don’t recognize the field, or any of the people on the field. It’s a short three-hour practice, and I head through the halls of my beloved school. I’m anticipating a melancholy feeling, but I got nothing. This is the point in those coming of age movies where I’m supposed to walk through the halls in slow motion and the camera zooms over to the 70-year-old version of myself played by Sean Connery….but I got nothing…
I’m blessed to have all four biological grandparents still alive and healthy to see my graduation! Both sets were visiting, one from Wyoming the other from Kansas, to witness what many call a “milestone” in my life (but as I’ve expressed this far, it hasn’t felt like much of a milestone). We have to take pictures early because my dad and brother are going to reserve seats. I stand in front of my house in my cap and gown. And still, nothing.
The parking lot is already full at 6:40. I head to the choir room to rehearse our graduation song. After rehearsal, I go into the boy’s locker room and they check to see if I’m wearing pants or if I have any explosives. I get in line right by the big gym and see everyone in green and white. Still nothing. I see many of my teachers, current and former, in black robes. We take a few pictures before the big ceremony. Drumroll…
Pomp and circumstance begins to play. Surely now I must feel something yes? Not yet..
I walk across the field with my fellow “R”s. The crowd is a complete blur to me. I can’t focus today! We do the flag salute, we sit down, principal welcomes everyone to the ceremony, principal welcomes everyone in Spanish, and I just sit in my seat, blah blah blah. I can’t explain 80% of the ceremony to you because I completely zoned out. I’m such a role model, I know.
Then. I felt something. The speaker congratulated the class on 2013. Spark. People throw their caps. Now it feels real. And then….BOOM
Firework gate was resolved thanks to one of our assistant principals, and the class of 2013 was sent home with a gorgeous display of magnificent fireworks. That’s when it hit me, I’m a high school graduate.