A Youthful Voice from June
Officially an Alumni
By Sierra Angell
Last month, I graduated from Centralia High School; I am officially an Alumni! The graduation ceremony could not have been more perfect. If asked to describe the day in one word, I would choose idyllic. The ceremony was held on the football field: blue sky, light breeze, first bits of warm sunshine, and rich, green grass. It was pleasantly short too, only forty-five minutes long. The three speakers from my class were humorous, nostalgic, and down-to-earth. At the end of the ceremony, my classmates and I joined together one last time and threw our black and white caps into the wind. The whole experience felt dreamlike and surreal—the moments I had imagined and eagerly anticipated for years felt strange, as they finally became reality.
After the ceremony, the fun began! Five of my girlfriends and I had our parties together, we had been looking forward to our vanilla-chocolate-cream-cheese-icing-and-butter-cream filling cake since first semester. Six girls, six puffy, white gowns, and six square graduation caps squished into my little car and we drove down Jefferson street—like so many times before—singing joyously, loudly, and very off-key to The Eagles Greatest Hits CD.
The rest of our day was wonderful just like the simple, sweet graduation ceremony. It was the kind of day that made me glad I had grown up in Centralia, I felt blessed. What's more, I know that the picture-perfect ceremonies and fun-filled graduation day’s did not happen in Centralia alone. Days like this took place at high schools all across Missouri and even the Mid-West.
Graduation represented an ending for the Class of 2009; but more importantly it celebrated a beginning—college, military service, technical school, or simply, the beginning of adulthood. It is customary, at certain points in life, for people to offer advice. Graduation is definitely one of those times. Just like the ceremony, this overflow of advice made me feel extremely grateful. Obviously, a person can only live by or remember so many tidbits of advice. For me, the simple fact that people care enough to share their precious jewels of advice created a sense of gratitude. I would like to share some of the advice I received on graduation, but please do not focus entirely on what they say. It’s who they are and what they did before my graduation—not what they said—that makes me feel so grateful. They thought the precious pearls of advice they offered me were their gift, but the true gift was their place in my, and my classmates, lives. It’s not just graduate’s who can relate to this; I believe, when we stop and look around our hometowns we will find valuable, common-sense advice, loving family, and caring friends are in abundance in each of our lives.
My Aunt Jackie—who sent me encouraging cards before every big track meet, basketball game, and FFA contest and let my sisters and I stay at her house for a week each summer eating popsicles and riding bikes—suggested in her card, “Enjoy your time at Mizzou.”
My second grade teacher, Mrs. Warbritton—who taught us how to write our addresses and wiped away my tears when my “best friends” decided not to let me play with them any more—said in her letter, “Keep on learning and let God lead your life in all things.”
My track coach, Mr. Newsted—who showed us how tough we were with countless grueling workouts and taught us to leave behind a tradition of work, pride, and competition—said, “Although I always plan (set goals) I am always sensitive to the Lord altering them. Be driven sister!”
My Grand Ma, Georgia Lee—who hand-sewed a baby quilt for me and buys records for me at garage sales because she knows I love them—gave me the advice she does at the end of every family gathering or phone call, “Study hard, have fun, and be good.”
My best friend’s step-dad, Bob—who cooks extra honey bacon for me every time I stay the night and always finds me when I need an encouraging word—wrote, “Keep smiling, it causes people to think you are up to something; Keep reading your bible; Keep praying—it works.”
My language teacher, Mrs. Johnson—who showed me how to understand and love Emily Dickenson’s poetry and Thoreau’s thoughts on simple living—encouraged me to, “Keep that light shinning for those little sisters.”
From these people and their advice, I have gained yet another piece of wisdom. For me to impact and change world—as every graduate hopes to—I must live as these people have. They have followed their own passions and developed their gifts, but shared them with everyone: Aunt Jackie and her cards, Bob making breakfast, Mrs. Johnson sharing her love of literature, and my Grand Ma quilting for me. The point is these people are important to me because of what they have done between the dashes, not just what they said between the quotes.