Yesterday was big doing in these parts. #3 son and his GF graduated from Boston Latin Academy. Her family has one more young’un but that completes our cycle here.
These things changed. I picked up his yearbook a few days ago and before that they had gone to their prom. Each was the same and different from my HS years. For the yearbook, all the pix of kids and staff were in color, and more important, the students got to put their own message beside their image. There was no more CV style, comma-delimited list of sports, clubs and other activities, which set us obsessive sorts apart from those just clinging to the log flowing in the educational river. Both better looking pix and free commentary are good.
The prom though had no theme. With disdain, Isaac explained how old fashioned themed proms were, that they were more sophisticated today. That may be accurate too. Lord knows, I went to several junior and several senior proms in my years. Their Hawaiian or outer space or other decorations were generally pretty tacky, even though those involved spent terrific time and money flogging the motif and its artifacts.
Yesterday, we might have been able to cram everyone, kids and parents, into BLA’s auditorium, but the Matthew’s Arena at Northeastern was more spacious, allowed for flow of grads getting their three seconds across the stage, and provided the sense of transition that fit.
It was a jolly time for students, perhaps too jolly with the smuggled in beach balls distracting from the addresses and making the patrolling teachers look like rasorial birds scrambling, but for the toys instead of worms. After six years of attention, I think the kids were allowed what passes for rowdiness in one of Boston’s exam schools. Having been in numerous other of the city’s high schools, I am always struck by the relative focus and calmness of the teens in the likes of BLA and BLS.
I brought a notepad, expecting some wisdom in the numerous addresses. Only one was worthy, but the others were harmless enough. Both the salutatory and valedictory addresses were LITE. The young women thanked parents (with the valedictorian claiming she had successfully hidden her keynote status from her Albanian immigrant parents up to the moment she walked on stage), praised the school and teachers, and waxed nostalgic with a few mini-vignettes of shared experiences. There was no enlightenment offered.
The salute to the graduates, a.k.a. the mandatory remarks of Headmaster Emilia Pastor, was harmless but atavistic. I’ve been in meetings with her and always found her dreadfully serious. I don’t know about the science high, but BLA and BLS’ headmasters have always seemed to wear their position like chainmail, heavy and demanding deference. In hers, she gave advice on how to thrive in the six years of BLA, only every student on the arena floor had come out the end of the HS machine.
She was more amusing rising from her seat repeatedly to introduce others or start her address. Her skirt was a little above the knee and she offered no cheap thrills to the hundreds of black gowned folk before her. She was acrobatic rising by pressing her knees together, splaying her feet and somehow managing to spring modestly upright. She was attention getting in the way a baby giraffe is rising on his hooves.
Understandably most parents and other relatives were there for their precious one. Those with large claques walked the stage to deafening squeals and applause. Before the presentation of diplomas, quite a few in the audience had no use for the addresses. They shouted to each other and into their cellphones instead. I may have been the only loony trying to hear the words.
It’s a pity they missed what I considered the highlight (short of my son getting his diploma, of course). State Rep.Carlos Henriquez, BLA ’94, spoke in the middle. His was the non-trivial set of remarks. He spoke wistfully of never marching across the stage and his envy of those who were about to. Seems he struggled with a required match course, failing a couple of times, before completing it in summer school.
So he was a dragon at heart as were those about to hit the stage, but without that few seconds of shared glory.
He noted that he continued to accomplish in life in ways he feels that redeem his slow start. In fact, he said one redemption was being the legislator who represented the district where BLA is. Perhaps more so was his candid inspiration to the grads-to-be. He was not afraid to use himself as an example of the struggle and success. They heard the call to go out the next day and start becoming leaders, but then the brief respite came that “Tomorrow you can sleep all day. Then the next day you become leaders.”