It is hard to believe that almost 38 years ago, on Thursday evening, 3 June 1976, I joined 365 classmates at the Wicomico Youth and Civic Center in Salisbury, Maryland to celebrate the culmination of twelve years of academic achievement. As we gathered together donned in our caps and gowns, that moment in time denoted that each of us had reached another milestone in our lives. With the receiving of our diplomas, we had successfully joined the ranks of High School graduates, and like those before us, we each had our dreams and aspirations of what tomorrow would hold as we traversed the road of life with its many diverging paths. In the years that followed some chose to take the paths that led to the high roads, some chose to take the paths that led to the low roads, and still others chose to take the paths that led to the roads less traveled.
Amidst all the joviality, however, there was still an air of melancholy as we came to the realization that this was perhaps the last time that we would all be together. This was it – the last scene and the last act of the play. All of the actors had well-rehearsed their parts and were in their proper places on the stage determined that this last performance would be the best performance of all.
As our tassels were turned from the right side to the left side, and as we sang the Alma Mater, we bowed in humble appreciation to an audience who had stood by us and supported us from the beginning. Afterwards, the curtains were lowered, the lights were turned out, the actors said their final goodbyes, and alas the stage was left empty as the period was put in place in yet another chapter in each of our lives.
Life can be thought of as a large school building with its many classrooms where life’s lessons are taught and learning is achieved. As pupils in this school, we can liken ourselves to actors on a stage. Now is our moment to shine as the world waits in great anticipation to see if we will give a great performance, a mediocre performance, or a poor performance.
Regardless of the caliber of our performance, each one is given a grade ranging from outstanding to abject failure. We can choose to just do the bare minimum and squeak by with mediocre performances, but one day there will be a final curtain call. We will find ourselves in the final act and the last scene of the play. It will be “graduation day”. It will be time to don our “cap and gown” and walk across the “stage of life” one last time as we receive our “diploma” in recognition of what we have accomplished.
If we have not given our best performance while on stage we may find ourselves left with feelings of regret and remorse wishing for a chance to do it all again, but alas it is too late. The curtains have been lowered, the audience has gone, the lights have been turned out, and the stage is silent.
There is a “graduation day” for each of us. Will that day be a day of great rejoicing, or a day full of sorrows and regrets? Will we graduate with honors, or will we graduate with having only accomplished the bare minimums? The choice is individually ours.