In cities and towns both large and small across America, high school graduation time is a commmunity-wide celebration, even for those of us who do not have children or relatives among the graduates.
All of us take pride in the accomplishments of our grads, for we know that they represent the future leaders of our community and our world, and that all of us have played some small role, even indirectly, in their nurture and development from young children to the adults they are today.
Seeing the balloons and other signs of graduation-related celebrations around town this week brings a smile to our faces, for they evoke the memories from our youth when we ourselves were high school grads and poised to set sail from the sheltered harbor of our school and community.
For the parents of the grads, who will be watching their sons and daughters proceed to the podium to receive their diplomas, the moment will be bittersweet. We are reminded of the words from that 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?
The members of the Class of 2017 have the distinction of being the first to graduate from the beautiful new Winthrop Middle/High School building.
It was 51 years ago this month that the WHS Class of 1966, the first to occupy the then-brand new Winthrop High School, received their diplomas. That Class of 1966 had vacated the former high school building on Pauline St. mid-year and became the first graduating class from the new Winthrop High.
That building, which was razed to make way for the present, new structure, is now nothing but a faded — and ever-fading memory — and no doubt 50 years from now, it is likely that the present Winthrop Middle/High School building likewise will have reached the end of its useful life.
While thinking about the cross-currents of time and space through the decades shared by Winthrop High graduating classes, we realize that it is inconceivable for the members of the Class of 2017 even to imagine coming together for their 50th reunion in 2067.
However, if any members of the Class of 2017 feel that 2067 is a long, long way away, we do have one piece of timeless advice to offer all of the members of the class: “Carpe diem” — Seize the day.
Unlike a sports event, life does not offer any time-outs. The clock keeps ticking — “Time and tide wait for no man,” as the poet said — and we must strive to be at our best and to do the best we can every minute of every day of our lives.
Fifty years from now, we can assure all of this year’s graduates that none of them will want to look back 50 years to their high school graduation and think, “If only I had…”
To be sure, making mistakes is part of the human condition, but having the mindset to overcome life’s challenges is what separates those who are successful from those who are unable to overcome adversity.
We offer our congratulations to the members of the Class of 2017 and their families. We know we join with the entire Winthrop community in wishing them a joyous graduation day and the best of luck in the years ahead.