Blessed: Graduation Season

By: Reba Phelps

The month of May boasts many memorable holidays and events. We honor our Mothers, we remember our fallen soldiers on Memorial Day, Cinco de Mayo, Teacher Appreciation Week and the Kentucky Derby. May, in the South, also indicates the end of the school year for most students.

Last, and certainly not least, May is graduation season.

Recently I was looking through my own senior book with all of my memorabilia. It is a book that recorded all of my future goals and dreams, photos of friends, copies of old prom invitations and tickets to concerts that were attended. It truly is fun to go back and chuckle at the differences in me now compared to thirty years ago. Most of it is a little on the embarrassing side, especially when I ran across my school transcript.

Looking at that old transcript always brings a sense of sadness and regret. As I mention to anyone that will listen to me, I simply was not a good student and I often want to apologize to my old teachers when I see them. I was more on the social pathway and not so much on the academic pathway. I try not to wonder how different my life would have looked had I really applied myself during those days. I also remember the deep seeded stress and worry of not knowing if I would graduate.

Last week I had the amazing opportunity to attend the Lakeview High School graduation ceremony. Having worn my own Lakeview green cap and gown in 1992, I was thrilled at the chance to celebrate with this class and the administration.

As I made my way to the stage to sit with my fellow School Board members and dignitaries for the evening, I was overcome with a huge sense of unworthiness, humbleness and gratefulness. Here was this lowly ranked student, who struggled every day….preparing to go and shake the hands of these hard working graduates. My sense of not belonging quickly subsided as the Pomp and Circumstance Graduation March began to play.

As the song played, the crowd of parents, grandparents, siblings, neighbors and friends went wild clapping and cheering for their graduate. There were families with matching t-shirts, (my family never did this for me…just saying) signs and banners that declared their student’s name. I even saw huge signs with large face cut-outs of their students. I truly had chills of excitement and became teary eyed for these students as well as the love and pride that was being shown to the children.

This week I also was blessed to celebrate with the graduating class of Natchitoches Parish Technical and Career Center. It was a smaller class in size but definitely not in school spirit. I watched each one of these hard working students walk across the stage donning baby blue caps and gowns with such pride and happiness. There may have been a look or two of relief in there as well. If they were like me, they were certainly relieved!

Thursday night was Marthaville Junior High’s 8th grade graduation and the whole community showed up to support these amazing children as they make their way into high school.

Having shaken the hands of most of these graduates, all I could think of was the amount of praying, tutoring, fussing, juggling and sacrifices that all of these parents had to make in order for their child to graduate. It has been a beautiful week celebrating public education and we will continue celebrating with the Natchitoches Central Chiefs on Friday night.

It will always be the biggest blessing for me to have a front row seat, or any seat for that matter, to watch our students in Natchitoches Parish Public Schools graduate. Student achievement is why we do what we do. I cannot begin to imagine the pride that our teachers and staff must feel when they see their students outfitted in a cap and gown. Mission accomplished. These graduates will now enter into our workforce, enter into our colleges and begin their first steps to adulthood. Education is the backbone of our society and I think Natchitoches Parish produces some of the best and brightest young scholars this state has to offer.

Please always pray for our educators and school staff. It is an extremely hard but rewarding job shaping the minds of students and teaching them how to be successful, well rounded adults.

“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.”
1 Timothy 4:12

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