A special sense of pride at graduations

Published 11:04 pm Wednesday, June 22, 2011

I never thought I would have to go to another high school graduation after my own, but on Saturday, I found myself in the front row for both Lakeland and Nansemond River high schools’ commencements.

Prior to the big day, I was warned it was insanely busy, especially if I had to attend more than one graduation, but nothing could have prepared me for the hustle and bustle I experienced, especially when I first arrived at the first ceremony.

My first stop was Nansemond River at 9 a.m., and I was shocked at how exclusive of an event graduation is. As I walked in, I heard guests without tickets pleading with the teachers and staff members manning the doors to let them go into the gym.

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There were even people outside of the doors shouting to the crowds, “You will not get in without a ticket.”

It was as if graduation at Nansemond River was the concert of the century, and anyone without a ticket was out of luck.

Also like a concert, there were awesome tickets for the floor seats — the gym — and tickets for the nosebleed section — the auditorium.

Red tickets got you into the gym where the ceremony took place, and yellow tickets got you into the auditorium where guests watched the graduation on a screen.

As I entered the ceremony, one woman begged a staff member to let her in with her three children even though she only had three red tickets and one yellow.

She was still appealing to the staff member when the ceremony was just minutes from starting, and I never found out if she made it in.

Even though I felt bad for the woman, I completely understand why the schools have to be strict about admittance into the events.

The gym was packed with people, all crammed shoulder to shoulder on the bleachers.

During Lakeland’s ceremony, I had to take a seat on the stairs because I couldn’t find a free seat.

Despite the congestion, the ceremonies went on without a hitch, excluding the insane amount of cheering and hollering from the audiences at both schools.

Despite the noise, I really enjoyed seeing the faces of both the students and parents as they beamed with pride.

Even though I didn’t know anyone at the ceremonies, I couldn’t help but share in the palpable sense of pride that swirled through the gym.

Nansemond River’s salutatorian Kelsey Davis gave her fellow students great advice when she told them to enjoy the moment.

Despite all the madness that surrounds the day, the feelings that erupt at graduation are unique compared to other milestones, and I feel fortunate that I got to experience those feelings once again at Saturday’s ceremonies.