Graduation day is a day like no other

We all have our own take on what makes up special moments and they vary as much as a person’s character.

Our lives are filled with big moments.

As kids the big ones are tying your shoes, riding a bicycle, making a stone skip more than once or blowing that perfect bubblegum bubble.

As adults the moments are obviously different but just as significant.

That first job, the first car, marriage, the birth of the first child, tahe big promotion, retirement or the hole in one.

We all have our own take on what makes up special moments and they vary as much as a person’s character.

But many of us can agree that graduating high school ranks right up there.

It’s more than a day, more than a piece of paper – it’s a moment of   change.

In that one moment, more so than turning a specific age determined by law, a youth becomes an adult, a student becomes a graduate and life of compulsory studies are suddenly over.

For many it’s only a pit stop to more studies, albeit on a much different and larger scale.

For others it’s a watershed moment, where life doesn’t revolve around school schedules and duties anymore.

For everyone involved, it’s a graduation into another phase of life’s journey.

As a parent, I know I’m a rookie when it comes to graduation and the pomp and circumstance surrounding it. But perhaps that’s what makes it as exciting for me, as it does for my daughter.

For her it’s a moment to say goodbye to the security and comfort of local schools and teachers, who have known her for years, in exchange for the unknown and demanding style of post-secondary education.

Or even more challenging, jumping right into the competitive workforce.

I think back to moments of reading her bedtime stories, dropping her off with best wishes every day at elementary school or simply helping solve a Grade 3 math problem.

I see many of the same faces that were grinning ear-to-ear in her Grade 1 Christmas concert now, who are also part of the next wave of adults going out into the world.

It’s a time to think back to all the teachers, especially in elementary school, who showed patience, care and encouragement to help students gain confidence in their own abilities.

Those same abilities flourished under the tutelage of high school teachers to the point where  students are now ready to take it to the next level in to post-secondary institution or in the workforce.

The long path that began with the over-sized backpack and the cartoon-character lunchbox in the primary grades and morphed into the iPhone and salad that she now takes to school, comes to an end on Friday.

From that moment on, her life is hers to live, foster and flourish.

She has been given the tools, now it’s up to her to begin building a future.

Of course I’ll still be there to offer guidance. But not in the way I use to help her with homework or make her lunch.

Now I can offer advice and stand back and watch what she decides to do with it.

Just like that first day of kindergarten or when they get their driver’s licence, there’s a sense of control and guidance we have over our children that we give up at graduation – whether we like it or not.

It takes confidence, both from a parent and their child, to know that graduation is a moment that sets a person free on a new horizon.

For a parent, the horizon will no longer include report cards or lunches or field trips.

For a student, graduation day unveils a horizon with unlimited potential.

And perhaps, for the entity of a parent and child relationship, that’s the greatest moment of all.

Guy Bertrand is the managing editor of the Trail Times. His daughter, Annie, will join her Crowe class in graduation Friday.

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