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What’s around the corner

Published 9:22pm Thursday, June 13, 2013

Last Saturday’s events at Lakeland and King’s Fork high schools, which I covered while a colleague covered Nansemond River High School and Suffolk Christian Academy, were the first American commencement ceremonies I’ve experienced.

Last year, my first working for the Suffolk News-Herald, I was taking a long weekend, and, for those of you who don’t know, I moved here from Australia in 2011.

I thought the experience was pretty close to what you see in the movies, and not so far removed from high school graduations in Australia, either.

My graduation all those years ago had a little less regalia, no salutatorian, and the valedictorian was called the dux — Latin for leader.

We had a guest speaker who wasn’t the superintendent, and — to add some corniness — we all left the auditorium through a tunnel created by all the other students holding their arms up and joining hands, to the strains of Garth Brooks’ “The River.”

I felt sorry for my claustrophobic classmates and critics of country music.

On the regalia front, we didn’t wear cloaks, caps or honor cords, but our formal school uniforms, which included a blazer.

I’m sure what Suffolk graduates felt last Saturday, and what they’re still feeling to some extent, is the same as high school graduates feel the world over.

Looking back 16 years ago, I can’t recall precisely what that feeling entailed, but it was probably a mixture of relief, pride, expectation and something not quite fear.

Something I heard a lot of in the various speeches last Saturday was that the future is still pretty uncertain when you’re just leaving high school.

My word, that it is. I knew which university I was attending and what I would be studying. I knew I was going to a party that night on a property about an hour away, which we drove to in a long convoy.

I knew I’d be mostly working on my family’s farm and hanging out with friends before university. I had a very vague idea of the career I would pursue.

But to be here now, making a life on the other side of the world and with our first child on the way, was completely out of sight.

Be flexible and keep an open mind is good advice to any 18-year-old — or anyone else. You never know what’s around the corner.

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