Days of innocent confidence recalled

Published 9:12 am Saturday, June 27, 2015

A few weeks ago when pictures of graduating high school seniors appeared in special sections of newspapers, my thoughts drifted back to that special day in my life. I don’t remember much about the speeches delivered by outstanding class members. What I do recall is how we all roasted in those hot black gowns. The auditorium was not air-conditioned. I am sure the temperature hovered in the 90s on stage that day.

I recall a whirl of pre-graduation activity of signing memory books, attending parties, and our class outing at a mountain lake. Reflecting on those times, I doubt we realized the enormity of what was happening during those moments. Probably it was unreal to us until that familiar song played as we walked down the aisle to receive our diplomas

For several years when I was a reporter, I made group pictures of graduates for a newspaper. The students stood on bleachers, enduring the heat while I got several shots. Among those groups were the class geniuses, class clowns, class beauties, class favorites and those most likely to succeed. I wondered if the class beauty would become a Miss America. Would the boy and girl selected most likely to succeed live up to that prediction? What about the class clown? What was in his future?

Several years ago, I attended my class reunion. I learned that many of my classmates were highly successful. I was surprised to find that the one I considered class clown became a respectable principal who had received recognition for outstanding achievements. Who would have thought the boy who tagged me with an unflattering nickname and caused me misery every time he saw me was the same person? Whenever I spotted him in the hall, I ducked behind friends, trying to escape his loud taunts. Well, maybe his high school experience gave him a special insight for students like himself.

Among the five girls who were my special friends, the one I believed less likely to succeed surprised us all by becoming a teacher. She could pull the wool over our eyes, as well as a teacher or two. I believe her own experience as a crafty student helped her deal with those in her classrooms years later.

Another one of those girls was fun-loving and happy-go-lucky. When the two of us sat side by side in the library, our whispers and giggles behind big books held in front of our faces gave us away. The librarian either separated us, gave us a tongue lashing, or, on one occasion filled out a demerit slip on each of us with which we were confronted the next day. I couldn’t help laughing when I found out she had worked in a high school library for years.

In those last high school days, I don’t think many of us were thinking too seriously about the future. We just possessed the innocent confidence of youth bound for brand new adventures.