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Graduation - friends forever

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By Ken Begley

And so we talked all night about the rest of our lives; Where we’re gonna be when we turn 25
I keep thinking times will never change
Keep on thinking things will always be the same
Lyrics from “Graduation (Friends Forever)”

You ever hear of the above graduation song before?
I love it, yet it always leaves me a little sad.
It talks about two friends that have spent so much of their lives together, and now there is a fork in the road called graduation. Both are taking different directions for their life.
I was reminded of it as Cindy and I stood outside St. Dominic with a huge crowd of parents, aunts, uncles, grandmothers, grandfathers, sisters, brothers, and cousins as the Washington County High School Class of 2011 arrived for their prom last Saturday. It was the first time I ever went to something like that. I didn’t realize what a huge gathering it would be.
Our second oldest, Brenda, is part of this class. They all looked so grown up, so ready, and so eager for the future. This was their night and they were the center of attention.
You know, it’s not just a milestone for these students either.
I remember when my first kid went to pre-school. My thought was, “This is going to take forever. She won’t even get to high school for 10 years.” She’s now a junior at U of L.
The time flew by.
On her graduation night from grade school, a woman tapped Cindy on the shoulder and said, “If you think this happened fast, then wait until they get to high school.”
She was right.
But I think it really hit me when Brenda went to her prom.
But when we leave this year we won’t be coming back
No more hanging out cause we’re on a different track
and if you got something that you need to say
You better say it right now cause you don’t have another day

As I stood in the parking lot last Saturday, I could only look at my girl and see how pretty she was dressed in her prom dress. It was then that I began to realize that she really isn’t a kid anymore. Within a few years, she’d have her own family and kids who would be her first concern as Cindy and I properly take our back seat in her life. You know, you just can’t have any soul if thoughts like that don’t cross your mind with a tear or two.
My Good God, where does the time go?
Cindy and I stood there and said hello to some of the people around us when one woman we didn’t know said, “You’ve got to go in and see how they decorated the gym. It’s so beautiful. You’ve just got to see it.”
So we did.
Cindy described it as “A Mid-Summer’s Night’s Dream.” The walls were completely covered with stars and there were silky looking swags that were draped to the center of the ceiling and back. We were both stunned at how a gym could be so transformed. The class of 2011 was going out in style.

Will we think about tomorrow like we think about now?
Can we survive it out there?
Can we make it somehow?
I guess I thought that this would never end
And suddenly it’s like we’re women and men

After these next few days, things will never be the same for the Class of 2011. They’ll be off to discover the world. Many of the friends that they knew, they’ll probably never see again. Some will go to the military, some to colleges, some to trade schools, some to get married and some to go to work.
Many will move off to other cities, other states, and some even to other countries.
There’s another thing you find out when you leave school. It doesn’t matter whether you were popular or not, whether you were the smartest or not, whether you were athletic or not, whether you were the person everyone knew or not. It’s as if history sort of vanishes with the wind and everyone’s slate is wiped clean. Graduation seems to be the great equalizer. Everyone starts out with a new sheet of paper to write out the next chapters of their life. It’s all up to you now.

And if you got something that you need to say
You better say it right now cause you don’t have another day
Cause we’re moving on and we can’t slow down
These memories are playing like a film without sound

So we watched all the kids as the last of the class of 2011 make their grand entrances into the parking lot, and some were really grand. There was the huge stretch limo, the stretch Hummer, a big rig, and even a speedboat being towed in, loaded with soon- to-be ex-students in the back. I don’t see how they got everything into the parking lot that night.
It was one heck of a show with everyone laughing, crying, hugging, and snapping pictures. The only bigger gathering in Washington County will be graduation night in June. It’s hard to describe, but it’s just a nice feeling to be a part of, in a world that at times seem’s so crazy.
Years from now, if you ask the members of the Class of 2011 what was the happiest day of their life, it will be when they graduated from WCHS.
You know what the saddest day will be?
Same day.
Life’s a rocky road to travel.
But it’s still a beautiful world out there.
If you go through life and you have only one true friend, then please know this: You are a very lucky and wealthy person.

I love you, Brenda, and good luck. May God bless the Class of 2011!

As we go on
We remember
All the times we
Had together
And as our lives change
From whatever
We will still be
Friends Forever