High School Graduation

Remember this experience? Several families around me are preparing for this event. Caps and gowns are ordered. Practicing walking across the stage in some schools has begun. Proms are scheduled, and many schools have planned elaborate after-parties that will go on until the early morning. A safe venue for graduates to hang out, get silly, and celebrate a milestone is a wonderful idea. Teens are also making plans to go to the beach, the lake, the mountains, or any place where they can get a bit wild and let out the emotions that have been building as high school ends.

It is a bittersweet reality that your friends will scatter across the globe. The familiar connections in the halls, on campus, and in your neighborhoods will now stretch thin, becoming less frequent and often spanning different time zones. One friend might be off to college in Ireland, another to Canada, and a few more to the West Coast. Some have chosen colleges in the Midwest, while others are heading to the Deep South. The map of your friends’ locations resembles a sprawling spider web, a testament to the vastness of the world and the diversity of your friendships.

Perhaps it reminds you of “Charlotte’s Web” by E.B. White. In the story, a friendship is built between a little piglet and a spider in the barn. The spider advocates for saving the pig from becoming pork chops, and they build a loving relationship. Charlotte, the spider, devises a way to save Wilbur from slaughter by making him famous. Her plot is pure genius. Even though they are an unlikely pair, they delight us with schemes and warm our hearts with their care for each other. Many times, our high school friends feel this way, too. We develop a bond that we swear will last a lifetime. Alas, Charlotte, though saving Wilbur, cannot save herself from succumbing to the natural life cycle. Just like some of your high school relationships will also die.

Just like your high school friends will leave, Charlotte must go. Others come to take her place, and new bonds are formed. The same happens as you move from high school to college, where new friends will emerge, and bonds will be formed. Some of us are fortunate to keep a connection or two from high school and carry those friendships forward. Others form strong bonds in college and have periodic reunions with their college friends. Building and rebuilding connections is the pattern of our lives. You marry, and suddenly, your friend group shifts again to include more couples and fewer singles. You have children, and now you are off on big camping trips with several families so the children can be watched by many, and the adults can relax in clumps.

Examine where you are now. Page back to your high school days. Bring those memories forward. If you have your yearbook, drag it out and look through the book and the signatures and notes that classmates left. Reflection is a healthy exercise. Let your curiosity about any of those teens be satisfied. Surely, you can find one or two just by searching the web. When we go back in time, we can validate our history and reflect on how we have come to this current place. Developmentally, high school was the launching pad. Enjoy!