While I’m pretty old fashioned in general, I do enjoy the changes that have come along to weddings and other ceremonies, adding modern music and updated fashions. I welcome the addition of new practices that become traditions. But graduation seems to be immune from the updates. And I, for one, am glad for a passage of life that our parents and grandparents can recognize and relate to.
After attending every graduation ceremony in my high school years as a member of the band, I could probably play “Pomp and Circumstance” from memory. The song was written in the early 1900s as a series of marches. The first of these marches is the one we know of as “the graduation song.” It was first used by Yale University at their graduation ceremony in 1905. As a march, there’s a natural nod toward military traditions, hence the parading in and out of auditoriums and stadiums throughout the country, in formation, in uniform. Even the title comes from a line in Shakespeare’s “Othello,” which references a call to war. War and military references don’t exactly conjure up images of young people setting out on a new adventure after completing years of education. But a march to move forward, toward challenges and victory, is certainly suited to a modern graduation.
The gifts that come to modern graduates are all still fairly traditional and often practical. For those leaving high school for college, a practical gift of towels, laundry supplies, new bedding, and basic appliances like a coffee pot or TV still make sense. For those leaving college for a first career, cash often seems like the best gift – something to apply toward a professional wardrobe or a first apartment.
The sentimentalist in me also loves those gifts that come from the heart. The Dr. Suess book “Oh, the Places You’ll Go” is a perennial favorite, if not predictable. I remember receiving a leather-bound copy of “The Velveteen Rabbit” as a graduation present from a colleague at my first “real” job, an internship at an advertising firm during my senior year of high school. The giver had written a very special note inside, encouraging me to always be “real,” like the much loved toy bunny the book is written about. Honestly, the heartfelt note is more beloved to me than the book itself. While I’ve reread both over the years, the note is particularly meaningful.
In this season of graduations – joyful endings and new beginnings – I would encourage all our readers to write a note. Write one to a student getting ready for a new adventure. Maybe write a note to a favorite teacher. Or write a note to another parent, encouraging him or her during this transition time. Even if no one in your immediate circle is participating in a graduation, you did once, and this time of year allows you a moment to reflect on that rite of passage.
Students are not the only ones moving into a new adventure. Families and parents and teachers are all adjusting, too; letting go of loved ones and allowing them to move (sometimes far away) can be very difficult, or at least emotional. Seeing a favorite student leave after several years of teaching him or her could make a teacher feel a little less enthusiastic about starting over in a few months with a whole new crop of fresh faces. I guess it makes sense for most graduations to take place in the spring during a season of rebirth and renewal. So go ahead, send a note to a teacher to thank them. I know many teachers who were just as much a part of my successful completion of school as my family was.
Each year, we employ at least one college student. As a staff, we grow attached to these young people. Over the last nine years in business, we’ve had some really amazing young adults pass through our doors. We hope they’ve had a good experience working with us and learned a few skills, but more importantly we hope the memories they have of their time in our presence are fond and meaningful.
This year, more than previous years, I’m having a hard time letting go of our two stu-dents. One has been with us for almost three years, the other for just one. Both are talented, competent young ladies, heading off on new adventures. I remember those days from my own college graduation and can almost feel the same apprehension and excitement they both feel. I long to write them both a powerful note, perhaps put it inside a copy of a good book, or buy them both something practical. While I may do those things, I will also make sure to encourage them long after graduation day with calls, texts and Facebook posts. Their new adventure should be filled with support as they face challenges and, I hope, victory. A good march should set them on the right path toward Pomp and Circumstance.
Holly Lynch is the owner of The Season Events, a full service catering, event planning and design company.
*The views expressed in this column are those of the writer, and do not represent the opinions of V3 Magazine