A high school graduation is a bittersweet time both for the graduates and their family members. Although it is the most joyous and significant event thus far for the grads in their young lives, it also signifies the end of a period during which they have been dependent upon their parents, teachers, community, and friends for guidance and direction.
Graduation marks the official transition from childhood to adulthood. The grads no longer will be referred to as boys and girls, but as young men and women. They have the right to vote, the ability to enter into contracts, and only they, not their parents, will have access to their personal medical, academic, and financial information.
The graduates also can decide whether to join the military, which in these times can mean putting their life on the line for their country.
But these new-found rights also carry with them the serious duties and responsibilities of adulthood and citizenship. Among the most important is that the grads no longer will be treated as juveniles by the criminal justice system, but will face all of the penalties and punishments attendant to criminal acts if they stray from the straight and narrow. Much has been given and much is expected from our grads, who have been like so many boats sheltered in a harbor, but who now are casting off into an ocean that promises to be both thrilling and challenging with seas that will be both calm and stormy.
For the parents, graduation brings mixed emotions. The pride they feel swelling up in them as they watch their son or daughter approach the podium to receive their diploma is tempered by the knowledge that their lives have changed forever. As they recall how they first brought their child to kindergarten 13 years ago, no doubt every parent will be reminded of the words from the song from Fiddler on the Roof:
Where is the little girl I carried?
Where is the little boy at play?
I don’t remember getting older,
When did they?
A high school graduation is perhaps the one event in which the entire community celebrates and partakes, even if only from a distance. All of us remember our own high school graduation and the combination of exuberance and trepidation that it brought. Regardless of whether we have a direct link to a graduation ceremony, all of us take pride in the knowledge that another generation of our young people is moving onward and upward.
This is especially true for the Winthrop High Class of 2013, which fully has utilized the resources made available to them by the community and administrators and staff at Winthrop High to attain outstanding achievements. Many of our grads will be attending terrific colleges thanks to the education they have received in the Winthrop school system. It was very heartening for all of us to read the words in last week’s Sun-Transcript in the interviews of grads Michael Lessard, who will be attending Harvard, and Nicole O’Brien, who is headed to MIT, in which both Michael and Nicole extolled the many opportunities they had at Winthrop High and the mentoring and support they received from their teachers.
Both students also praised their principal, Gail Conlon, who is retiring at the end of this year. We would be remiss without noting the tremendous influence that Gail has had not only upon this year’s grads, but upon all of the students who have had the good fortune to walk the hallways of Winthrop High during her tenure, as well as Asst. Principal Robyn Kostegan, who also is retiring after many years of distinguished service to the Winthrop schools.
We are looking forward to a joyful and memorable graduation ceremony this Friday evening at Miller Field at which Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo will be on hand to offer the graduates and their parents his congratulations.
Indeed, we know we join with all of our readers in offering our congratulations to the graduates of the great Class of 2013 and wish them the best in the years ahead. We know they will continue to make their family, friends, and community proud as they attain even greater heights in whatever path of life they choose.