Thirty years ago, I sat on the football field at Cherokee High School’s Class of 1989’s graduation. That night culminated our high school experience. My best of friends surrounded me. How did we get here?
For me, my high school years laid the foundation for my future. Life-long friendships formed. Music experiences solidified my joy of music. Other experiences offered a chance to explore my prospective career as an educator.
My memories of our last weeks of high school bring joy to my heart; that’s what I felt at the time, joy, the best time of my life. We had our End of the Year Chorus Banquet. Our chorus teacher made us all feel special and loved. Our theme for the banquet was, “Who is your Hero?” She invited us to come dressed as our heroes. Characters that arrived at the banquet included the Ultimate Warrior (a wrestler), Indiana Jones, and even Freddy Kruger. I think I dressed as a teacher. Our chorus teacher entered wearing a red graduation cap and gown. We, the graduation seniors, were her heroes. What a statement! Her joy and love for us inspired us to be our best.
As a group, we decided to sing, “Wing Beneath My Wings,” during graduation, to dedicate the song to our parents and chorus teacher. We gathered at a friend’s house to practice. I think we all wanted our graduation to be special and memorable.
As a class, we practiced the graduation ceremony during the hot summer-like day on the football field. Over 300 teenagers gathered. I remember taking pictures with my camera, sitting beside my homeroom friends at the front. It was so hot, but we had a blast. This excited me, we were graduating!
The night of the graduation arrived. At home, my parents captured the moment with pictures of me in my white cap and gown. Anticipation filled me, knowing this was the last night of my high school years. The end of one chapter, the beginning of a new one.
Sometime during the ceremony, our chorus gathered to perform, “Wings Beneath My Wings.” Yes, tears were flowing. My heart overflowed with emotions: the last time singing as a group, the pride of our parents, the gratefulness for my parents, teachers, and friends, the memory of a dear friend present only in her Spirit, and the knowledge this night was the launching of our future as young adults.
After receiving our diplomas, we celebrated!
Our gang, our parents, and many others gathered at John’s house that night: The biggest graduation party ever! I had never seen so many people at that house before, as it was a usual hang out spot. The party proved to be the perfect ending. The people I cared for deeply, all in one place, once again, to laugh, talk, and have a grand time.
To the Class of 1989: Thirty years ago, we stood at the edge of a future, not knowing the life’s path we would traverse. I am thankful for my years at Cherokee High School, for the foundation created for my future.
Now, I feel the joy of my 17-year-old self, surrounded by my family and dear friends. As my youngest son graduates from Creekview High School, I wish the Class of 2019 the joy and excitement, of standing on the edge of your future.