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Monday, June 19, 2006

Pomp and Circumstances

Hello, my faithful readers. I apologize for the lack of posting. Those who know me at all know it is certainly not from lack of having anything to say. That doesn't happen.
I have been to a flurry of graduation parties this past weekend. First of all, let me just say that I NEVER in a million years would have thought to have invited any of my high school teachers to my graduation party. I don't think any of my friends did, either. I can't quite figure out if the kids at the school where I teach invite all their teachers or just the ones they like, or..? At any rate, the parties I attended were as varied as the students.

Party #1
Friday night I went to a "double" party- one party for 2 grads. A boy and a girl, best friends, but just friends. It was held at a rather shi-shi (how does one spell that, anyway?) restaurant- actually the upper level, which is connected to a museum. There were stations at which were crab stuffed mushrooms, gourmet pizzas, a ginormous antipasta platter with olives and roasted red pepper and asparagus and other yummies. There was an open bar (!). There was the standard table with the scrapbooks, the baby pics, the college acceptance letters, etc. There was also a slide show, with all kinds of party pictures of the grads, including ones that were risque- even by my standards, which are questionable. The moms of the grads are also friends, and demonstrated that friendship by planting a big wet one on each others' cheeks. When they walked away, my husband and I wondered if they had ever fooled around. We decided they probably had. The grads themselves are fun, intelligent, slightly left of center. One will attend a small liberal arts college in the Northeast, the other will attend a state school and wants to go into the medical field. Their families are educated and fairly prominent members of our community.

Party #2
Imagine growing up the only child of 2 loving parents who work hard in the restaurant business. When you are 10, your mom must be put into a nursing home because of a debilitating illness. She dies when you are 12. Somewhere in there, your dad can't cope, so you have to live with an aunt. She loves you very much, but is not your mom. You move back in with your dad and it's just the 2 of you. You don't have friends over to your house much because the house is in such a perpetual state of yuck. When you are a senior, your dad becomes gravely ill. You find him in the yard when you come home from work one night. He's hospitalized, but dies around Thanksgiving. You make it through your senior year of high school with ok grades and with the loving support of some really good friends. You go to school dances with really cute girls. You party at the end of the year. You get a DUI. Now your plans to attend community college are shot, because you cannot drive yourself there. You think you'll join the army. Your grandparents throw you a graduation party in spite of your troubles. It's a small gathering of mostly family. You invite your goofy Spanish teacher even though you barely got a C in her class.
That's who's party I went to Saturday. There was a small display of pictures and football letters, but no scrapbook, no college acceptance letter. I cried all the way home and hugged and squeezed my girls the minute I walked in the door.

Party #3
Rented tents and tables in the backyard. Ice cream sundaes and cake. This girl is an amazing athlete and earned a full tuition athletic scholarship to a rather prestigious school in the East. Her parents love her very much. She has a nice boyfriend (although, in a few years, I think he might discover that she is the wrong gender for him). There were tons of classmates and teachers and neighbors there. There were 2 tables of pictures and athletic stuff, scrapbooks, etc. She wore a shirt that was the one of the university's colors. She is one of those "all-American" girls. I will be surprised if I DON't hear about how successful she is in a few years.

One of the teachers at my school retired this year. He is by far the most curmudgeonly man I've had the opportunity to meet. He entertained the staff with a witty and sarcastic farewell presentation, then proceeded to move us to tears with his final words to us. He said "The reason I decided to become a teacher, and the reason that you all did, too, is that it's the most important job there is." Testing, schmesting, standards, schmandards, it's really about the connections you make with kids. And if you aint got that, you aint got nothin.

3 Comments:

Blogger happychyck said...

This post has me a little choked up. Especially that second one. Oh, and I also have a soft spot for those old curdudgeonly teachers when they get all sentimental. Geez!

The parties I've been invited to were for my students who belong to cultures that have a different kind of respect for teachers, like Pakastani, Eastern Indian, etc. When I am introduced to the student's friends and family members as the teacher, there is an obvious and (uncomfortable for me) deference even from the elderly members of the family.

Yea, that gets me all choked up more.

6/20/2006 12:58 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

what a cross section of life you saw through these parties... your weekend reads like a novel... where the people involved are all so different, yet connected at the same time.

gosh, the kids from party 1 & party 3 seem like they are going to be golden, and i really hope the boy from party 2 starts to catch some breaks in life.

6/21/2006 10:20 AM  
Blogger Kevin Charnas said...

excellent post...i loved it. Party #2? ugh... that poor guy. i wish i had the money to anonymously support him through college - i really do. i teared up, my god...the things that happened there.

i have a distinct feeling that you weren't invited because you were goofy...and he probably couldn't care less that he barely got a "C". It was more likely your heart that scored a high grade in HIS book.

BRAVA!

6/21/2006 6:22 PM  

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