Patti Rasmussen

Where did all those years go?

Patti Rasmussen · June 21, 1997

I could feel it coming all year. It seems to start slowly enough. You know what an important time this is in your life, and you're going to enjoy every minute of it. But by June you are left wondering: Where did all those years go? Your child is graduating from high school, and across the valley, there is a whole lot of shaking (hand-shaking, that is) going on.

High school graduation is a wonderful milestone. At some schools this year, traditions were set, as in the case of the first graduating class at Valencia High. At others, long-standing traditions were played out for the last time. At Hart High, we listened as Mr. Strauss read a letter to his last class.

If junior high is a time you spend figuring out who you are, then high school is a time to figure out what you want to be. Sometimes a student will walk in knowing what that goal is, but for most, it will take a little while.

My son Adam has known since day one what he has wanted to be: the boss of his dad's company. It took him until his junior year to figure out what he needed to do to reach that goal. He found a great college in Arizona that will help him attain his dream, plus -- location being everything -- it offers extra-curricular activities, such as snow skiing, fishing and hunting. You know those college tours I talk about during spring break? They really give your student another perspective on higher education.

My pocketbook was prepared for senior year. I had done it the year before with my oldest son. The first month is an expensive one. Checks need to be written for senior tributes in the yearbook, senior pictures and deposits for a spot in the college of choice. Life moves at a somewhat natural pace until prom (more checks).

There is contact with that counselor you've been talking to for four years, "Just checking in to make sure all the credits have been met for graduation requirements." Whew, passed that one. Then it was the finalization of college plans. Once the technicalities were out of the way, it was on to the important stuff, like where to go on that senior trip?

When the yearbooks are handed out (which, by the way, were excellent), the pace picks up. Senior picnics, assemblies on proper attitude during graduation ceremonies and another check for caps and gowns.

Oh, I almost forgot finals. They come around the last three days of the school year. Here's a chance for the underclassmen to get in on the action. You have to go to school only until noon. For the seniors, many of whom go to school only until noon already, it's nights of cramming, and then it's another step completed.

It's not that I'm making light of senior year. It's just that after twelve years of helping your child read, write, build missions, turn in science projects and solve math problems that we can't even understand, that senior year races by and before we know it, we're sitting in the bleachers listening for them to call your name. With a hug and a kiss, we're sending our children on their way and well, it just went by too fast.

As Matt Gould said so eloquently in his graduation speech-medley, "You will survive." For the Class of 1997, whose high school career started with a bang (a 6.7 earthquake), you did survive and you did it well.

To my friends and neighbors who have been attending graduation ceremonies all week, whether it be high school, college, junior high or elementary school, here's a big pat on the back. You've accomplished one of the things you set out to do when you first held that baby in your arms. You got your child through school, one of the first true tests in life. It's a great milestone.

As for me, I'm going to miss Adam. He's a great kid. If he and his roommate, Brendon, make it through the first few months of shared living space, he should be okay. I guess I'll be waxing those skis of mine and finding out how the slopes in Arizona rate.

To those who graduated: Nick, Brendon, Tom, Danny, Jared, Jeff, Jennifer, Katherine, Amy, Amber, Scott, Tracy, Andy, Brianne, Cassandra, Courtney . . . Congratulations and best wishes for the beginning of a new phase in your life.

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Patti Rasmussen's commentaries appear in The Signal on Saturdays.

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