I have to say, my own graduation wasnít
that great. It was timed, there were 670 students, and it
started to rain right when we got out of the building.
But I only say so because the day before,
I went to Stafford High Schoolís graduation. And that night,
is a night I will always remember.
I went to Stafford Elementary School so I
knew most of the graduates. A week ago, my friend was on the
phone in my car, and suddenly, she wanted me to speak on the
To my great surprise, I heard the voice
of my childhood friend on the other line. We havenít spoken
in nearly seven years, and she immediately invited me to her
It was at a capacious church, and I got
some VIP seats up front sitting with friends in Stafford
yearbook. After a few speakers in the administration, the
salutatorian, one of my best friends back in elementary,
came up to the podium.
She was nervous, you could tell by the
way her hands were shaking because they projected her onto
three big screens. But her voice was firm as she outlined
the years of high school memories for the crowd.
At one point, she looked down, and it was
silent for a few seconds. Then, you could see her crying.
And as I glanced at the graduating students, many of their
eyes glistened in the dark.
After a roaring standing ovation, the
valedictorian came up. He was in the middle of reading off
of his speech, when out of nowhere, he tore the paper up!
Then, you could see him struggling to keep his voice steady
as his eyes got redder and redder.
The valedictorian, he was crying. That
was when I cried too.
It may seem sort of silly, this kind of
dramatic performance, but it is something only a Stafford
student would understand. The class of 200 people, was the
most diverse and tight-knit group Iíve ever seen. Everyone
knows everyone else, and cliques are broken more often than
As they showed the homemade video of
memories, I saw my picture pop up from elementary. As my
friend sang the graduation song, I was reminded of her
beautiful voice back in the 3rd grade play. As the students,
one by one, walked up there, I screamed myself hoarse,
surprised and joyous to recognize my long lost peers.
Afterwards, we all filled in the
courtyard for pictures. And one by one, I greeted and hugged
my old friends, happy and sad to see their shocked faces
stained with tears.
I spotted my best friend, from first
grade, my first friend when I came to America, and it was
like a movie. We ran towards each other, slow motion and
all, hugged and cried together for the longest time. Her mom
joined us, and with mascara running eyes, we exchanged
High school, is not just about the
studies. The clubs, the extracurricular, the labs, the
volunteering, these are the technical stuff. The real thing,
like in any phase of life, at work, at home, in college, is
always about human connection.
And in the words of Vitamin C...
ďAs we go on, we remember
All the times we had together
And as our lives change, from whatever
We will still be, friends foreverĒ