A Different View of High School Graduation

May 10, 2017 in Parenting,Teenagers


“Can you believe he’s graduating?!” a friend asked me when I told her my son was graduating high school in a few weeks.

“Actually, yes I CAN believe it,” I answered, not giving her the usual replies of, “no, I can’t believe it. Where did the time go? How did my baby grow up so fast?”

My “baby” is 6 foot 8 and 19 years-old. And, as I explained in a previous post, Big Dude voluntarily went to boarding school in order to do an extra year of high school so he could develop athletically (not to mention academically and socially) and be better prepared to play college basketball.

Well, that day of being prepared is here. And he is ready.

Very ready.

So ready in fact that he is counting the days until graduation and suddenly feeling very old to still be in high school.

It’s not that he regrets his decision to do an extra year of high school. But, he didn’t anticipate the feelings of being “trapped” in high school when most of his peers were already in college and living more independent lives. Social media doesn’t help either when you see kids your age living it up in college, while you’re living a way more sedate existence in the middle of Nowhere-ville, CT. So, let’s just say the past few months have been filled with Big Dude’s complaints of being held in captivity in a prison cell (Yes, his dorm room is on the small side and yes, he can be a tad dramatic).

While boarding school and college have some similarities — dorm-style living away from home, a campus with classes in different buildings —  the biggest differences have to do with independence. In boarding school, your presence must be accounted for at all times. You can’t just leave the campus without someone knowing. Also, there are way more rules in boarding school: Study hall from 8pm-10pm every night except weekends. Lights out at 11pm. And of course the obvious “no alcohol, no drugs” zero-tolerance policy, which inevitably causes certain risk-taking, rule-breaking students to be thrown out of boarding school each year.

Fortunately, Big Dude is not attracted to the drug and alcohol “scene” and will be finally receiving that long-awaited diploma. One of the traditions of his school is that every senior must give a speech to the entire student body on an assigned day, which can occur at any point during their senior year. The speech can be on any topic, but many of the kids do talk about their experience at boarding school. My son’s “speech day” is coming up next week and I’ve had a preview of what he plans to say. He describes his journey from toddlerhood through high school — including his transfer of high schools twice before — and explains how he ended up at boarding school as a “way too old” 19 year-old. I am sharing below the concluding paragraph from his speech, because it’s heartfelt, truthful — and hilarious.

…I arrived at here high school #19 ( I mean #3) in the fall of 2015. I was already 18 when I got here, and I was still a bozo.. I was too preoccupied with whether I’d succeed here and not blow it like I did at the two other schools. I got out of this by not caring so much about results and accepting the possibility that I might fail at certain things. Once I adjusted my attitude and turned on the smart button in my brain, I started to do things to my potential and actually gain confidence in all areas. Although I’m glad I did the extra year for basketball this year, I also felt too old to still be in high school. Even though I’ve wanted to be in college for a lot of this year, and have been checked out a lot, I still think I got the most out of this imprisonment, and it has made me a stronger person who was actually able to deal with adversity. In all seriousness, I do want to thank my parents for putting up with me. Most parents would not last one day with me because I’m so high maintenance, but my mom and dad have somehow not put me up for adoption yet. I also want to thank my two brothers for giving me a reason to beat them up every now and then. And finally, I also want to thank all the teachers, coaches, and advisors here who somehow got me through and gave me the confidence to not quit, even when at times I felt like running away in an uber to the nearest train station. Thank you….

Don’t you agree this kid is ready to graduate? Me too — and I’m proud and excited for his next chapter!!

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Kristi Campbell May 10, 2017 at 8:19 pm

Oh Em! LOL He’s so ready to graduate! Congratulations to him and to all of you. I laughed out loud about his brothers giving him reasons to occasionally beat them up and about how he’s high maintenance. Too funny. I hope his remaining days in “prison” go quickly for him and that college is all that he hopes for!


ohboymom May 10, 2017 at 9:37 pm

Thanks Kristi — I too laughed out loud at parts of his speech too. I was tempted to reprint his whole speech, because there were other hilarious lines. He hasn’t showed it to his advisor yet for approval — I’m hoping the version I saw is what he gets to read to the class, because I think his classmates will appreciate it too…


Donna Naquin May 10, 2017 at 9:07 pm

Wow! I love this post for so many reasons… your vulnerability and big dude’s courage and humor… are just two. As I read, I understood the struggles, acceptance, relief, fears, and accomplishments that ultimately arise from completing a rite of passage. I’m excited and curious to read about “what’s next”!


ohboymom May 10, 2017 at 9:33 pm

Thanks Donna — I’m glad all of his emotions about graduating came through…I too am excited to see how his “what’s next” unfolds. Could be a wild ride. :)


Janine Huldie May 11, 2017 at 7:12 am

Aw, loved his letter and I do agree sounds to me like he is ready. Congrats to Big Dude and wishing him all the success in his college years now, too!! :)


ohboymom May 11, 2017 at 9:26 am

Thanks Janine! It’s a milestone we are ALL looking forward to!


Christine Carter May 23, 2017 at 10:15 am

Ah this is AWESOME. I can only imagine how caged in he has felt this past year, seeing all his friends run FREE! LOL

That paragraph is hilarious and genuine- transparent and inspiring. It looks like your boy is absolutely positively READY for the world of college!! I bet you are one proud mama. <3
Christine Carter recently posted…High School 101: The Bridge Between Holding on and Letting GoMy Profile


ohboymom May 23, 2017 at 1:44 pm

Aww thanks Chris – yes, I’m proud and I think we are BOTH ready. :) He gave his speech last week and apparently, he “brought down the house.” Lots of laughs from his buddies…


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