Grad Party Moments

After a year of Covid the grad parties have returned. There have been years past where I haven’t attended any of the celebrations of our senior graduates. Last year I made no excuses, we all stayed home. But there have been occasion where I took an all or nothing approach. This year has been different. Perhaps having retired from my school holds precedent. Today I felt tears at a party for the first time in nearly a decade.

For every teacher there is always that student and this afternoon I said a farewell to one of mine. She holds that special place in my heart. One particular display taunted everyone’s heartstrings. She had created, or perhaps mom or dad, a display of her class picture from 1st grade to graduation. My eyes well as I write these words. I think knowing she would be the last person I work with directly on this stage had a tremendous emotional impact on me today.

I looked at all the students and families that I was given the opportunity to spend my life with over the last two decades and I am only grateful. The celebration of a graduate is real and profound. In my own life I didn’t have that luxury when I left high school, so now as a teacher for most of my life I have discovered a certain respect for the life of the students that when I was a teenager I took for granted. To be the adult teacher that comes to celebrate their successes is rather humbling for me.

For all the teachers out there that this summer question whether or not it makes any difference for them to say goodbye to their students one last time as they leave the high school hallways, take a moment to give yourself a break. Though there were many times when you felt like you had no impact on their lives, it is clear they wouldn’t be where they are this summer without your love, compassion and guidance. But we didn’t do it alone we all did it together hand-in-hand because that’s what we cared about more than anything else – the success of our children, our students, our families, our community.

To be a teacher has been probably one of the rewarding gifts of my life and I am forever thankful for the opportunity. Seeing the smiles and celebration of my students this summer has been a highlight and offers assurance as I choose another chapter in my life. I only hope I can have as receptive an audience as I did the kids I worked with on stage throughout my career.

Graduates I wish you only the greatest success in all of your future endeavors and I will be right there to watch you achieve so much in your profound lives.

Thanks for letting me know you – celebrate!


©️ Thom Amundsen 6/2021

Living In An Ideal World

We have students across the country

reaching their final days,

the year of the senior

so many being asked to take that next step

that freedom of becoming official

that adult thing

prayed for, imagined, perhaps sacrificed

well before their time,

readiness isn’t always an option

unless

we decide for ourselves

not for each other.

 

There’s an idyllic wind out there

waiting to engage

that heart and soul

of a youth finding their groove

wishing only for happiness

outside of

what has been routine for some

dozen years

 

Now take the walk

enjoy the ride

let opportunity speak

to the wonder of your own

personal design

 

Ride the crest

walk the stage

you’ve earned your moment

be happy be staid

be yourself

become your wonderful

self.

Wanting Discovery

I am that person you see every day,

in a coffee shop – caprice with friends,

at the prom, nervous,

in every crowd shot of each rite of passage,

walking to school,

waiting nearby,

the one that popped out of a crowd with a smile,

genuine and as easily drawn to cry as allow laughter.

 

I am that young man, woman, person, entity, enigma, peer,

sad face, happy expression,

tumultuous personality drawn to the drama,

in knowing I am always questioning who I might be,

I am that one counting upon the moment,

when my world crashes,

crumbles, unravels, unwinds the very sustenance of sanity,

who knows you will be there to catch me,

comfort me, offer solace, provide direction, allow failure

to return to a successful rendezvous

with reality.

 

Because I know you care.

 

I am the child,

now the young adult filled with a vigor for pronouncement,

yes, it is my time, to cock, to strut the walk, to corral the essence of time,

with a wish to be recognized,

to be now, finally, in this moment, after years of fear and trepidation,

to be understood.

 

I am eighteen, seventeen, nineteen years old,

I am that question,

son, daughter, neighbor, friend,

Somali, Latina, American unrecognized, white kid down the block,

African-American, in all beauty, all encompassing,

I am that Asian, Russian, Icelandic, Austrian child,

I am that person – please, hold me, and guide me,

let me thrive.

 

I am that teenager, that might not yet realize,

howsoever society defines,

I am that Graduate.

Over Again

It is,

finality, finale, done,

once again, this design,

the cycle of purpose,

the rite of passage,

that notion of forever,

suddenly swept away,

in the throes of exhilarating

release …

Well for some the time has arrived,

when new adventures become responsible direction.

or there is always the opportunity to seek misguided futures.

Perhaps a summer trip abroad,

or a week of close study on learning the trade,

Vacant lockers, empty hallways, only …

the voices we heard the day before remain,

memories we visualize and wonder,

faces begin to blend – one surreal rush of time,

each individual need suddenly lost in time,

we remain hopeful their travels will be fortunate,

while we wait for a few, there’s always a few,

when the gates unlock in the fall.

Happy summer graduates!

Summer energy to be fair.

In The Flash of a Moment

Cap & Diploma 1

Do you recall,

big brother standing over you,

saying the words you listen to today.

‘If I could do it all over again’

~

Freshman year, starting high school.

All the fanfare of the big house,

pick your own schedule,

no more lines to Algebra class,

standing quiet in the hall,

while Jeff McCutcheon strolled by with Civics

reading ‘Crime and Punishment’

with a smirk on his face,

only to impress the her,

he would pass in single file.

~

Way back when we were on our own,

find the classroom,

begin that initial posture,

set the tone

learn no names,

find friends who will be …

letting go of old classmates

by virtue of spacial proximity.

~

Recall the struggle when no one

waltzed in to hold your hand,

how distant the world felt,

when Economics kicked your ass

a year later … new adjustments.

~

Different friends,

hanging out together,

finding commonalities

in eyes, jeans, sweaters, hair styles.

Perhaps trying to find the right look.

Junior year and she really did,

Sadie Hawkins danced and made everything alright,

at least for the rest of that year,

until she left for him,

sort of an overnight express.

~

Now we stand in a new line,

a different sort of pomp because

this is about you today.

The end of this chapter,

allows a new sojourn to move forward.

‘Earned it brother’ he said on the telephone.

When are you coming home man

your usual response in a miles away

sadly ironic tone …

Boot camp for him.

~

The sunlight streaking,

brilliant

stars aligned tonight,

any possibility for you …

Graduate!