Starting tomorrow I will be sitting in a wide variety of senior recognition ceremonies for my career center kids. Each ceremony is exactly the same format, hands out the same awards, is framed by the same pomp & circumstance, and ends with These are Days by 10,000 Maniacs. Even when I'm not sitting in that darkened auditorium, watching my seniors file past me, whenever I hear that song come on the radio I get that same feeling of pride wash over me. I know that towards the end of the last two ceremonies on Tuesday evening/Wednesday afternoon I'll start feeling my foot tap with impatience, wish I could get a signal on my iPhone, and feel a bit bored because I've been doing this for three straight days. But I love those teens so much. For two (and with a few...three) years I've worked with them. I've watched over them like a mother hen. I've sweated out failing grades, signed off on summer school applications with fingers crossed, I've lectured about interim reports, I've talked about poor choices. I've also high-fived, fist-bumped, hugged, and cried it out with many of them. These next three days are my reward. To watch this group of kids receive their career passports and awards is my own pat on the back for a job well-done. It is my gateway into a summer where I'll prepare for my new crop of teens to fret over. I know I'll cry a little because I'll miss some of these teens. But I'm just so gosh darn proud of them. Many of these kids have come into this place at-risk, needy and worried that graduation was a far-off dream. This week they stand tall, proud, graduates of high school and entering the workforce (and many entering college!). I just feel lucky enough to have been standing on the sidelines of their lives to witness their growth.
Congratulations Class of 2011. Go forth and conquer!