It’s all good
A lot of times we really are clueless as human beings.
This human being in particular.
I spent a good portion of last Thursday worrying about how the weather could send Ephrata’s commencement exercises indoors. Not only was I stressing just who was going to be getting my other ticket needed to watch the indoor ceremony in person (two for me, two for Morgan’s mother), I was also lamenting the other things that are lost in these situations such as instrumental music, the ability for the community and extended family to attend and overall mood and aesthetics.
Even after the official announcement came down around 4 p.m., I just couldn’t let it go. Here’s me, the "know what you can control and what you can’t and live with it" kind of guy the other 364 days of the year, still whining about something that is now a reality. After years and years of watching and covering other people’s commencement exercises, I just couldn’t get past the fact that my first one with a child involved was going indoors.
I had flashbacks to my own graduation in 1982 when we had torrential downpours and were moved into the high school auditorium – at that time still un-air-conditioned. By the time that ceremony was over, I had sweated off so much weight I instantly lost any offers I had to play college football. I was literally so delirious from the heat, I remember absolutely nothing about the ceremony other than when it was over I couldn’t wait to rush out the door to the cooling rain. Of course while in this current "woe is me" state, I didn’t stop to consider the fact that the venue for Morgan’s graduation would be much more suitable…i.e. air conditioned.
So this went on and on for most of the afternoon till finally Morgan said something to me.
"Is something wrong dad?"
"Is something wrong…is something wrong…well, what do you think Morgan? Of course something is wrong – graduation is inside."
Then she gave me the look. The look that said she was annoyed in a fun kind of way. But it’s also the look that says "do I really have to be the mature one here?"
She then proceeded to remind me that there was nothing we could do about it, make the most of it and remember it’s still going to be a wonderful moment we’ve waited a long, long time to enjoy. How ironic that on graduation day, her maturity would illuminate the moment and show me the way when I needed it most.
Right then and there, I let it go.
Sincere kudos to Ephrata for pulling out what appeared on the surface to be a very smooth transition from outdoors to indoors. There were no noticeable major glitches witnessed or reported and though indeed it is not the same as being outside, it was still pretty darn special. In fact, an argument could be made that the setting was more intimate and you got a much closer look at the emotions unfolding among the graduates than you would have from the distance of the War Memorial bleachers.
As one would expect, it didn’t take long for the debate to start up again about whether or not Ephrata should take their graduation permanently indoors the way Warwick, Cocalico and many other districts have in recent years. In fact, I believe Ephrata is one of only a few who still plan it outdoors. The argument for taking it to a larger indoor venue such as Calvary Church in Lancaster is that it can be organized completely without a contingency plan or need to make a last-minute change, and that more tickets can be given out per student. But a closer look shows that some schools only offer five or six tickets per student, which isn’t a lot more than Ephrata’s four. Unless the number of tickets is a big number, students will be still be left to choose between siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles etc. I know several families that avoided having to decide between one family member or another by simply giving the odd ticket away.
Even with having just dealt with a last-minute switch to the indoor ceremony and making decisions on who could use the tickets, I still give an emphatic vote for continuing to plan for an outdoor ceremony in this town. I think if you look back through the years, only about one in every four or five ceremonies has to be moved indoors (aren’t we lucky!). It seems to come down to math – if more than 75 percent of the time you can have unlimited guests outside on a nice late spring night in your hometown, you do it. The only other major drawback some of us noticed actually came after the ceremony was over. Trying to meet up with your graduate, let alone try to meet and greet other classmates, was almost impossible due to the fact that once everyone poured out of the bleachers nearly all floor space was consumed. With patience however, we eventually made our way to an open space where we could properly congratulate Morgan and others going by. Again, a minor setback and certainly not worth, in my opinion, changing the tradition of the outdoor ceremony.
I am so glad Morgan reeled me back in Thursday afternoon because, of course, it was all good. My little girl was taking the biggest step and enjoying the biggest accomplishment of her life (I think I sufficiently expressed my emotions last week, so I’ll leave it at that). That is indeed the bottom line and what it’s all about. We could have done the ceremony down inside the old comfort station on East Main Street and I still would have been overjoyed. How could I have not understood that?
There were so many highlight moments last Thursday other than personal ones, that I am afraid to name just a few.
Of course seeing Parker Harley grab hold of that diploma and hold it high certainly has to rank among my favorite moments. It’s unbelievable timing also because just Tuesday we found out he will be getting the liver donation he needs from older brother Jacob. We wish them all the very best.
Was very happy for my mother’s neighbor Laura Miller being named valedictorian. I remember Laura as a quiet but super talented youth soccer player on a few teams with Morgan. To be at the head of a class with so many hard-working and gifted academics is quite an accomplishment. Congratulations Laura.
Emily Zimmerman and Brianna Hamilton also gave great orations and the overall presentation from class president Gabo Murcia is one for the ages. Exceptionally nice touch also in honoring retiring superintendent Dr. Gerald Rosati.
Congratulations to all the graduates of both Ephrata and Cocalico high schools. You have given us much to write about in the past 13 years and we hope you continue to do so for many years to come.
Speaking of the school, I feel I would be remiss not to mention there is an important vote on the district budget coming up Monday night.
Despite the fact that Ephrata has been proactive and is proposing one of the more modest tax increases in the county, this is a time when any increase at all needs discussion to the last minute. I think most everyone understands that districts throughout the state are dealing with lots of expenses they can’t control but there is nothing wrong with citizens and representatives taking one more hard look before moving forward.
With these new parents of grads set for their first college bills, let’s hope everyone gets involved with finding long-term solutions to funding our local school districts.
Remember, just as someone else helped pay for our kids, those bills don’t end at graduation.