Thursday, June 4, 2015

Graduation Day, 1974


May 31, 1974 was the day I graduated from high school. Wow! That was 41 years ago! Each year when the day rolls around I spend a little time reflecting.

I had not been with my fellow graduates long as my family moved the summer before my junior year from the area where I went to elementary school, junior high and my first two years of high school. My junior year, we were on a split session due to overcrowding and I attended classes in the morning with the junior and senior class. My senior year, we went into a new school that received students from a much larger area. The school building was huge and new concepts were introduced, like teaching to large classes in a "pod". I was celebrated my 17th birthday in December during the school year. I was one of the youngest in the graduating class. My friend Rhoda and I are a week apart in age so she was one of the youngest too.

As I reflect back to my high school years, I regret I didn't get more involved in activities. I love to sing so why didn't I join the chorus? Fear. I was afraid of failure and never tried anything new. I never played sports as a girl, again, fear, and really regret I missed out. My parents, bless their hearts, tried to encourage me to be more involved, but I was too afraid to step out of my comfort zone.

Just yesterday I told my son who is finishing his bachelor's degree this year (at the age of 26) how I made a D the first semester in Senior English, but an A the second semester. I imagine my parents put the hammer down and told me to get with the program or else!

I hated school my entire life. I began Kindergarten in Atlanta City Schools when I was 4 years old. Hmmmm...Mom read to me daily and I imagine I was a bright and shining little star compared to my boy cousins and appeared to be "ready" for school at that young age. I recall sitting in my class room during elementary school and staring out the window wanting to be outside, feeling claustrophobic in the stuffy room, tied to a desk. I'm still this way. I've never had a desk job that restricted me to a space without the freedom to move around and interact with people.

I was a social butterfly who was much more concerned with talking and having fun than studying. My mom had been Valedictorian of her senior class and won an academic scholarship to nursing school but was unable to pursue it. She knew I had potential to make A's and pushed me to work at my full potential, but I resisted. Studying interfered with my social life!

When I began homeschooling our boys, I read about early learning vs later learning. Aha! Maybe that's what happened to me! I am a product of early learning! My brother, an academic genius and master of many talents, did not attend Kindergarten. He excelled academically in high school and college. Today he has earned certification and credentials that only 50,000 people in the entire world have attained in his specific field and just spoke at an international conference. He plays numerous instruments, has taught his 4 children piano and violin, and has a Master's Degree in Divinity! Yep, he's everything I'm not! He's a product of later learning!

Or could it be the educational system of that time just didn't work well for me? I think my own experience with traditional school influenced my homeschooling experience with our boys. I knew what it was like to be forced to sit in a classroom even after completing my assignments while I waited on the others to complete theirs. That's one of the benefits of homeschooling. Parents know their child's learning style and can work with it to keep the child engaged and interested. Teaching a child reading and math using hands on techniques and subjects the child enjoys, like Ninja Turtles or Barbie dolls, keeps the child engaged.

Well, I never finished college, but I did teach my boys how to read and the basic 4 math operations! I take full credit for their college successes, one down, one still a work in progress! And I'm happy to say I've succeeded in writing with several published works and hopefully more to come!

So as I reflect on my high school graduation, I will cherish the memories of the positive experiences and of the friendships I still enjoy from back in the day!