So it’s true. Geeky Girl graduated. In theory, we’re empty nesters, though Geeky Boy boomeranged back home, so . . . not.
Because I work at the school that Geeky Girl graduated from, I was part of the graduation ceremony. We all wear our robes, process in. It’s a really nice ceremony. When diplomas are handed out, faculty, staff, and trustees who have daughters in the graduating class are invited to the stage, and get to hug their daughters after they receive their diploma. It’s very cool. A fellow teacher and I sat together. And we didn’t cry. Because we were worried about doing it wrong. Crying happened the day before and will happen later.
There was lots of hugging after as well. I know so many of the girls not just as students, but as friends of Geeky Girl. I hugged the parents and the girls. Colleagues hugged me and congratulated me. Lots of hugging. Which reminded me of how awesome the community is. We had all been in this together–parents, students, colleagues–and here we were together at the end.
And this plays out every year, not just at the main graduation for seniors, but at 8th grade moving up, and 5th grade moving up. Across the school at the end of the year, we all stand back and feel a sense of pride. Yep, we say, that kid there, and that girl there, they grew up a lot. They aren’t shy anymore. They are great at math now. They are a school leader. They’ve become a great runner. And that girl there, she faced down challenges most can’t imagine, and we were there to help. At every ceremony, that’s what I feel. It’s what teachers around me feel. That they had some hand in getting every kid on that stage to this point, directly or indirectly.
I said to my colleagues gathered before graduation, that I had cried the day before, during an interview, as another colleague talked about how wonderful the students we had in our charge were. It wasn’t just about my own daughter. It was about all of them, about missing them, yes, but also about the ones still there, and the work still ahead, and how wonderful it is to get to be part of that work. The tears weren’t sadness so much as an overwhelming sense of joy, an overwhelming sense of how lucky I’ve been to be part of something this special.