This is great, and I don’t have all the details, so correct my mistakes somebody: An editor somewhere in the northern portion of TimesLand put some money down for a contest to spice up the high school graduation coverage this year. Best story, as I understand it, wins, what, $50, or a gift certificate to Olive Garden or something?
Great idea, right? Here, then, are tops of the stories I could find. Please, please post others that I didn’t see, if there are more out there.
And you be the judge.
Tom Lake: NEW PORT RICHEY – Many years from now, when they are not so young, when they are gray at the temples and sagging at the hips, when they have scattered up the coast and into the heartland, when they are climbing the ladder or walking the streets, when they are wounded from battle or selling used cars, when they are mothers and fathers and Hollywood stars, the 302 members of Ridgewood High School’s Class of 2007 will remember their days in orange and blue.
No two will see the same thing. But if you could take each memory from each mind like the film from a camera and take it to the one-hour photo, and you mixed up a multisensory album as thick as a room and then you opened to some random page near the middle, here is what you would find.
Three girls stealing out to the parking lot for one last Camel Light. Royal blue gowns rippling in the breeze. A cigarette crushed on the heel of a shiny black pump.
Some kid doing splits on the gym floor, some other kid mooning the whole school, that time T.J. wore the sexy little Speedo.
The smiling face of John Reppert, the charisma of Freddie Quijano. Principal Randy Koenigsfeld crowd-surfing during Senior Countdown. Alex Papadopoulos whaling on his trombone.
Dangerous chemical experiments. Flights from campus for early lunch. Clandestine text messages. Girls in ball gowns and boys doing sit-ups. That time what’s-her-name went on stage wearing a whale’s tail. Jarred Caputo pushing 50.
Jodie Tillman: HUDSON – Nearly two months ago, she began to practice.
Rise. Shake with the right hand. Reach with the left.
Once she dreamed of college and maybe law school. But those dreams seem luxuriously abstract in a life now built around more immediate and specific goals.
Rise. Shake with the right hand. Reach with the left: All Sarah Klein-Malarik wanted Friday night was to get her diploma like every other Hudson High School graduate did.
Junior year, 2004, she was a chatty blonde cheerleader who jutted her hip out and blew kisses in photographs. But one afternoon, driving out of the school, she pulled in front of another car.
Doctors told her family to say goodbye before the first operation. The brain injury was too severe. No one thought she would make it. She did. Then they told the family she’d never move her right arm again. She did.
David Decamp: It’s packed.
Theater’s packed, too.
Parents find seats or just stand. Students stare, thoughts going everywhere.
Could it have really been that long since they dodged water balloons in the eighth-grade parade at River Ridge High School? Since they became the first freshman class to beat the seniors at powder-puff football?
Could it really be like this, after being so cool was so important:
Nice shoes, shirts and ties on this final Friday, an orchestra playing to thousands of people in a gym and overflowing into a theater? Just to see one face?
Wait till you get in front of people.
Eyes in the stands are watery. So are a few eyes in converging lines of 412 young men and woman in purple robes and caps.
I’m already starting. I’m not going to be able to see out to see where I’m going.
Molly Moorhead: Pasco High School’s graduation really began in the gym parking lot three hours before commencement ceremonies Friday.
Graduates in shimmering red and black gowns made their way into the gymnasium, past cars with messages like “Bye PHS c/o 2007″ painted on the windows.
They greeted each other not like people who have seen each other every day for four years, but like ones who won’t be together this way again.
They mentally rehearsed for the ceremony: grasp diploma with left hand, shake with right.
Inside the gym, the 232 Pasco Pirates talked and texted and hugged and high-fived.
Tabitha Heath, Kalee Burchfield, Elizabeth Garcia and Demara V. Marbra, all friends since middle school, sat on a bench together. They’d had manicures and pedicures and done each other’s hair ahead of the big night.
Tabitha was excited and sad at the same time. Kalee felt like dancing, but not with heels on. Demara was just glad the buildup was coming to an end.
High school was cool, Elizabeth said, but with “way too much drama.”
Michael Kruse: TAMPA — You think you’ll never forget your high school graduation, and the names of your classmates, and what it felt like, but you will, and you’ll be shocked at how quickly it happens, so here, members of the Land O’Lakes Class of 2007, is something maybe you can clip and keep and bring back out and look at 10, 20, 50 years from now.
You graduated on a hot and hazy Saturday morning.
The ceremony was at the Sun Dome at the University of South Florida, where it cost five bucks to park and the air conditioning inside was very, very cold.
There were 475 of you. Biggest class in Land O’Lakes history. Until ’08.
Big digital scoreboards up in the corners told you congratulations as you walked in to Pomp and Circumstance. The processional started just after 11 a.m., and first there was a little applause, then there was a lot of applause, then folks were standing.
Teachers and administrators sat on a big stage decorated with ferns in front. You sat in rows and rows of folding chairs set up in the middle of the wide concrete floor.
Brittney Williams sang “Love Is All That Matters.”
Lauren Healey sang the national anthem.
Short speeches were given by Class of ’98 grad and current state Rep. Will Weatherford, student body president Aysha Malik, senior class president Julia O’Keefe, valedictorian Sara Ippolito, salutatorian Korey Lane, International Baccalaureate valedictorian Paula Te and International Baccalaureate salutatorian Chirag Kulahalli.
They told you to set goals and dreams and to find something you love doing and to do it for a living and to get back up when you get knocked down and to make your own reality and to make it a good one.
O’Keefe harkened back to the “massive food fight” freshman year.
Lane started his speech like this: “Wow, y’all.”