I was so heartened to see my colleague Ralph Berrier Jr. give high school graduates their due in his Dadline column Sunday.

The thing about high school graduation is that especially if you didn’t move, you shared classes, meals, buses, joy rides, parties, concerts, plays, secrets, angst and adolescent philosophy with the same kids for 12 or 13 years. It was your entire life, or at least the part that you could remember.

There are so many endings and transitions yet to come for these young people, but nothing ever quite like this where an entire ecosystem that existed for one’s whole lifetime vanishes. Every one of your peers goes off in a different direction, whether it be college, the workforce or the military, and soon the house you lived in your entire life is no longer your home.

It’s sad that they didn’t get the chance to experience that collectively, and I say this as one who wasn’t particularly enamored with high school. But I recall having this realization of the finality of it at graduation practice. It was a sobering, thrilling moment full of excitement, possibility, apprehension and regret, and one that I shared with the 751 other kids in my class. Then we stepped forward, and apart.

— Luanne Rife

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