On June 3, the Temescal Canyon Class of 2015 had its graduation ceremony at Storm Stadium. It was truly a milestone in each student and parent’s life. Dang, those gowns were blue.
The Tuesday before, our entire senior class went to Storm Stadium to rehearse the entire process. Though it might seem a bit strange because much of the ceremony is spent sitting, it helped. Especially with the repeated sitting and standing exercises we had to do, since, as I stated before, not everyone was on the same page.
The rehearsal gave me another thought as well: it’s actually happening. I’m going to graduate. The empty stands around me, for a tenth of a second, scared me and my relative smallness. It was going to happen and I would be one of 500 to get my diploma.
Tuesday also was when my sisters were coming from Iowa to see me graduate and bringing my very dear niece. It was truly a heartrending moment in my life, when I’d be surrounded by those who loved me, and I’d get to see the little girl I’d met only twice before.
I couldn’t be the only one either, because the entire stand was going to be full. People from across the nation, across the state, across the city, even across the street would come – maybe even from other countries. Each student was given 10 tickets. I could request more, but it was a hassle and a half (plus I only found out about that the day we checked out, so I’m in extra trouble when my family finds out).
Then the day came – and I was calm. I had a good lunch, hung out with my sisters and family, got some new clothes and, when I felt that it was time, I got ready. My family came, and I got a few best wishes from some friends I truly love and were there with me in spirit. But then it got hectic. I forgot to iron my ridiculously blue gown, and the comfortable 15 minutes I gave myself dwindled into an absolute mess.
In the end, I got ready, wore all my attire and got out there by myself. Since my family had an extra hour, they were still getting ready anyway. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad my family helped me out and got me looking fashionable, but it didn’t change the little bits of anxiety starting to well up in my chest.
I got to the ceremony and, let me tell you, blue, blue everywhere. Looking at the gown on another person, I felt like we were all official (and wizards, but I digress) and ready to move on. I saw my friends, many of whom I would see for the last time, and went to my line. I was in the first row, and the organizers of the event had everything planned to the smallest decimal point.
They coordinated how we walked, where we would walk, how we would walk in pairs, and it was almost flawless. I looked up in the stands, the giant lights flooding down like a torrent, as if not a single motion could escape notice. The people, all colors, moving, waving, smiling, laughing. I couldn’t find my family, though I think I got a glimpse of my niece waving at me.
I felt small again, walking down the path to the seats. It was truly overwhelming.
There were speeches and pledges and anthems and speeches and songs. The salutatorian (Kabir Torres) and the valedictorian (Alaina Martinez) gave their speeches. After a short bit, it began – they were about to hand off 500 diplomas.
I didn’t realize it, but I was actually the first one in line. I walked up the ramp to the small stage in the middle of the field, the lights blinding. The blue of my gown competed against the sky, deepening and contrasting the two colors, and I walked forward. I grabbed my diploma and shook hands. Being the first one up, mistakes were made, and the wind kept blowing my stoles and chords. Then I stepped down the ramp. It was fairly easy, as I hugged my principal.
The crowd again made me feel small. But the minute I stepped off that ramp, I felt it within me. I swear, I grew 10 feet tall and three feet wider. My steps were heavy and my strides were long. At that moment where I felt small, it didn’t matter, because I was the tallest one there.
In the next step I came back to reality; and even though I knew I was small, I didn’t feel the oppressing weight. I felt like my own person, where smallness or bigness didn’t matter. The walk back to my seat was endless, priceless, and more thought-provoking than I’d ever imagined.
As soon as the final diploma was handed out, we shifted our tassels on the ASB president’s cue, and threw our caps in the air. Since we had to return the caps and gowns in order to leave, there was a small scramble to pick up the caps. We filed out, The crowd began to shuffle, and I walked out those steps.
For some people, that would be one of many graduations. For others, that was their only one. Some are going to college. Some are going to trade school. Others are going straight into the workforce.
Regardless, that smallness I felt earlier was gone as I took a million pictures with my family. One in a hundred may seem insignificant and a diploma, to some, not so highly valued. But the reality is that now, I’m technically my own man. That ceremony allowed me to feel comfortable being small and gave me the power to be as big as I want to be.
I could be another faceless number, but that didn’t matter to me because I achieved something I wanted to achieve. I made a contribution for myself, as selfish as that sounds.
Just because there’s a hundred candles doesn’t mean the individual one doesn’t shine on its own. It doesn’t stand out, but it still shines as bright as the rest.
I am small, but I’m happy with that. And I think that was a sentiment many felt that night.