Here we are again… our graduation issue.
Time has taught me that the majority of our readers will not see these words until maybe May 27. This is the day when everyone seems to be coming back up for air and recovering from all that represents the final week of May in our town of 20,000.
To say it’s a packed week, is a gross understatement. From the preschooler to the high schooler, graduations and festivities are in abundance.
Personally this May marks the end of two eras for our family. My final preschooler will bid farewell to the staff who has watched her grow from an infant in a car seat to a now independent, almost 5-year-old.
Financially speaking (this fall) will also be the first year since 2007 that I have not been faced by pre-school tuition. The departure can be described as ‘bittersweet’ at best.
While the first milestone is close to home and promises to bring much fun, adventure and adversity… the second leaves me a bit melancholy.
Speaking personally, as well as professionally, this outgoing Oakdale High School Class of 2012 takes a small piece of me with them.
As a class I came to know many of them, when I began covering Oakdale schools for the paper in 2002. Yes, that would be 10 years ago and if my math (and backwards counting) is accurate the majority of them were then in the latter part of second grade. And while I only spent two years of my career covering that beat, we saw a lot of each other. I’ve never stopped paying attention to the youth of our community. Being totally honest, I find many of them more impressive than the ‘grown-ups’ of our town and am often inspired by them.
Like the classes that have come before them, it is now their turn to bid the campus good-bye and set out on the next adventure life holds for them. The choices they will make from here forward will be vast and varied. As a community member and staff member of our community paper, I look forward to seeing where life leads them. Youth is exciting. So much is ahead of them. The road map is now theirs to chart. Inevitably bumps and disappointment will find them, but so will achievement and success.
I’ve recently come to realize that as we grow older, life (in and of itself) does not stand still but we forget about the aging process. By this I mean, of course we celebrate birthdays. Our birthdays, family members, friends, co-workers, the whole gamut come with validation and recognition. However when you’re busy in the day in and day out of life we can easily forget or better yet, lose sight of the growth that is happening around us.
Children we once hugged and encouraged as fourth graders, now teach our own children to swim or keep them company while we are on a ‘grown-up’ outing. Children who we once used to marvel at and what their college career would look like are now preparing to pack up and go.
From a personal standpoint, as I have come to know many of the seniors in this outgoing class, I have also been blessed by friendships with their parents. Their mothers I lovingly refer to as my ‘Mentor Moms,’ as much of what I now face they remember fondly. Their guidance and time as mothers is immeasurable and I feel blessed to call this handful of ladies ‘friend.’
Recently, I was discussing college prospects and choices with one of these special ladies. As she spoke of her excitement in her daughter’s choice, I marveled at how quickly the time had passed. I posed the question of sadness. The notion of her daughter now leaving home only to return on occasion and the emptiness of not having her close.
In true fashion of the grace her daughter now possesses, my friend smiled and shared, “That’s why you have to live in every moment and take it all in. It’s time for her to go off and start her life. It’s exciting. I’m excited for her. Our job is to make the most of the moments we have, when we have them. Now it’s all up to her.”
Her strength and conviction in this statement left me in awe. I mean, after all, here I sit in a small state of sadness to no longer be faced by preschool tuition. I have a handful of years to find such strength and clarity… I hope I can do it.
In the meantime, as the ‘lady from the Leader’ I would like to wish all graduates and their families all the best for this coming year. Whether you choose to take a break and travel, enroll in a trade school or venture cross country for college, your journey is now about to truly begin.
I still look back fondly on my early college and post college years. You learn a lot about yourself, your friends and your family during this phase of life. So, in the wise words of my Mentor Mom friend: “live in every moment… and make the most of them.”
This world has no clue what is headed for them from the 95361 and that… now, that is exciting. Congratulations.
Teresa Hammond is circulation manager for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.