The student have graduated and left for the summer, marking the end of another year. Most college and university graduations happen sooner than high school so the ceremonies always take me by surprise. Growing up I thought of the end of school coinciding with the beginning of summer, which always meant mid to late May, although I had cousins in New England who weren’t released until June. I thought it was because the snow would shut down their schools so regularly, but that wasn’t the case. New Englanders, after all, are used to dealing with snow. In my cousins’ case it was just that their fall classes didn’t start until after Labor Day, whereas here they started in August, maybe because most schools had more reliable air conditioning than some homes.
Then there was the year I was in seventh grade and we had so much snow it shut down the whole city for weeks—Nashville, of course, not being used to dealing with snow. The school I went to for seventh and eighth grade was close enough that I could walk to it, and frequently walked home, but the snow meant the kids who relied on busing couldn’t make it in, so they just shut down everything.
The freeze lasted so long that the school board, which normally just tacked extra days onto the school year to make up for whatever we’d missed, decided that instead we should make up the loss by spending an extra half hour at school each day for about three weeks at the end of the spring semester. So we sat around doing nothing, but at least it meant our summer break wouldn’t be postponed.
College graduations, of course, are different, which may be why they come sooner. For most students they don’t just mean the end of school; they’re the beginning of adulthood. It’s a very different transition from all the ones that came before.
Congratulations, classes of 2023, wherever you may be graduating from, and good luck.