Unless one lives up on Hermit’s Peak as the hermit did so long ago, one can’t help but be aware that graduation time is here.
Yes, I can say I have been there and done that a couple of times.
I graduated from Robertson High School in 1950, and four years later from Highlands University, right here in Las Vegas. Graduation was always held at Ilfeld Auditorium then and somehow seating for all attendees didn’t seem to be a problem. There were strict rules for the wearing of the cap and gown, and we had to look and act presentable, both for the attending crowd and for the many cameras whose flash bulbs went off. I know some of my fellow students at Robertson spoke at the high school ceremony but I don’t remember anything that was said, and the same goes for my Highlands graduation. I do know that Mr. Robertson was our school superintendent and Mr. Anderson was our principal.
All of my high school memorabilia was lost in our 1952 house fire, but I was given a 1950 annual by a classmate a long time ago. As I thumb through the pages I see that the commencement theme was “Making Democracy Work.” Alfred Herrera talked about “changes in education,” Robert Junk spoke of “Democracy at Work in the High School,” Phyllis Dowler’s topic was “Democracy at work in the Future,” and Charlotte Baker’s topic was “The School Board’s part in Making Democracy Work.” Well, what do you know!
Those topics would be just as timely today.
I also know graduation was a big dress-up time and most of the girls wore high heels with their pretty dresses. I wasn’t that brave (I was just 15 when I graduated) but I had fancy flats from Mr. Guy’s shoe store on Douglas Avenue.
Fast forward four years, when I graduated from Highlands. Yes, we suddenly realized we were now the adults, and we were responsible for furthering the causes that be in this suddenly big world we lived in. We marched down the slant-ing aisle in Ilfeld Auditorium in high heels with so much confidence.
The speeches by the VIPs of that time were long and boring, and those graduation gowns were hot, hot. Graduation was in June back then, and never held outside for some reason. Everyone knew it never rains in June here. Thomas C. Donnelly handed out our diplomas, and the only concern any of us had at the time was: Were they signed? Did we actually have a legitimate sheepskin in hand, proof that we had completed four important years in our educational path?
I can’t imagine not attending the ceremony of graduation; after all, one has put into that four years. My oldest granddaughter graduated several years ago from the University of California, and she and many others did not attend the ceremony because it was so large. I know the larger schools can’t be as personal with the huge enrollment and graduation numbers, but I think something is lost when one doesn’t get that fancy piece of paper one has worked so hard for personally in hand.
There are many incredibly talented graduates just now getting that diploma in hand as I write this, right here in Las Vegas, Mora, and so many other high schools in the area.
Our Highlands grads are already out there in that big and fun world.
Congratulations, best wishes, and may the job of the school of your choice for next year be possible right around the corner.
Oh, wouldn’t it be fun to be a graduating young adult again, particularly because now, so many years later, I am finally smart enough to understand the wonderful consequences of those degrees!
Editha Bartley lives in Gascon in Mora County. She may be reached at 454-0563.