Graduation for Zachary is Friday night. As a teacher, I am required to attend this joyous occasion. I would go anyway... "my" kids are graduating.
Zachary High is one of the few places I know that requires faculty attendance- and gives them a specific "duty location" at the ceremony. Some people are "on duty" in the foyer of the church- deterring parents/boyfriends/grandparents from bringing balloons, flowers, and noisemakers into the sanctuary. ("We have the most dignified ceremony in the Baton Rouge area... including some of the universities."-- When our guidance counselor says this, it's true!) Some people are "on duty" at various locations throughout the sanctuary- keeping traffic at the entrance/exits flowing, preventing parents from getting in the aisle to take pictures (therefore blocking someone else's parent's view). I am lucky every year- my "duty" is to be in the back with the seniors before graduation, making sure everyone has their tassel on their cap, isn't chewing gum, doesn't have a non-school-approved facial piercing, etc. It's that one last chance to talk to these kids before they graduate high school and open a new chapter of their lives!
This year will be hard. I've taught seniors all three years I've been at Zachary, but for some reason, this year has been the hardest year to "let go." These kids are special! They're amazingly talented, intelligent, wonderful young adults with SO many great things in their futures! They have changed my life forever- taught me so much about myself. Every year I lose seniors, it's hard, but this year has been worse than ever! I think being a "mom" now, I just saw my students in a different light. I saw them more for the potential they have and less as just "my students." God blessed me with the calling to be a teacher. I only hope that somehow, I have been able to truly "be Christ" in some small way.
So Friday night, I will watch "my babies" graduate. I will watch them as they experience the range of emotions that high school graduation brings (funny, looking back, it's amazing the way we change and grow between high school graduation and the 4 or 5 years following high school). I'm not teaching seniors next year, and I am almost relieved about that, because I think teaching seniors carries so much responsibility! I have loved every minute of this year (highs and lows and in-betweens), and I am thankful for the 21 members of the Class of 2008 who have forever impacted my life.