For me, the end of the school year has always signaled the official start of summer. I know the season has an actual beginning and end, but the second school let out I was free to spend my entire day coasting on my bike with my friends or spending the afternoon at the pool. It was the start of something both new and familiar all at once.
And while school officially ended for local students a few short weeks ago, nothing represents the end of school better than graduation. The weather looked very likely to rain on the parades of graduates heading into the weekend, but nevertheless Prosper High’s seniors received their diplomas that Saturday.
I get the special privilege of seeing how these graduations are attended and how they compare to each other in these small towns I cover. I get to see the unique thoughts and point of views that are brought up in the speeches, and see the many, many reactions of the parents and teens as they walk across the stage.
Schools have a special affinity for me. Before taking over as managing editor of this paper, I covered education and local schools. I love incorporating these news items into the paper. Over the last eight months I’ve been covering this city, I’ve gotten to know your kids. I can recognize them in photos and have seen the influence and impact they have not just on their school, but on their community.
So as I began to go through the photos from graduation, I felt a bittersweet sadness. In a way, I felt like these were also my kids who were graduating and moving on to their next adventures. I’m so excited and thrilled for all they’re about to accomplish, whether that’s continuing their education or joining the workforce.
But the selfish part of me doesn’t want them to leave. I’ll miss seeing them. I’ll miss recognizing their names and faces as I begin to edit the news stories for the week.
I’m sure there are plenty of parents out there who understand my feelings exactly.
But it’s precisely this reason why I absolutely love local journalism. Telling the stories of these young adults – your young adults – illustrates how deeply invested this community is in not only itself, but in the residents it produces. I’m proud to have witnessed many of these events firsthand.
It’s interesting to hear the conversations this time of year brings up for the people around me, too. Those of us in the newsroom haven’t had to go through our own graduations for several, or many, years. But I sense that covering these stories of the local graduations and commencement ceremonies, or even seeing the senior students stand up at the front during a special church service, always bring back a flood of memories.
It hasn’t been all that long since I had my own big day where I walked across a stage to receive my diploma, so I can still remember the excitement and anxiety felt by these young people. Whenever I get the opportunity to speak with these students headed to graduation, I always try to remind them to take in the day and appreciate graduating for what it really is — a wonderful accomplishment.
And then I tell them to bask in their summer.
Miranda Wilcox is the managing editor of the Anna-Melissa Tribune, the Prosper Press and the Van Alstyne Leader. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.