Traditions of graduation
Published 10:34 am Friday, May 22, 2015
Austin High School Principal
This year’s graduation marks 139 years of tradition for Austin High School. For so many AHS Graduates, the academic exploration, athletic achievements, and memories with friends originated right here at Austin High School. This year, 261 graduates will experience the culmination of their high school career with the graduation ceremony in Knowlton Auditorium. We are reestablishing the long tradition of graduation in the same building where the students have spent their last four years.
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When the graduates started kindergarten, this moment might have seemed so terribly far away. By the time they reached Ellis Middle School, they were too busy worrying about whether or not they would be able to open their lockers or remember where their classes were to give the passage of time much thought. By ninth grade there was the transition to AHS, and then in the blink of an eye three years had passed and their senior year had snuck up on them. Suddenly everything they did was a milestone; their last concert, their last sports competition, their last senior prom, their last test, even their last day of classes. Yes, they might not realize it, but traditions were being established.
How did these traditions begin? In 1876, our first graduating class consisted of four young women. The four women graduates in 1876 were born the same year that Minnesota became a state, 1858. They were born before the Civil War and lived to see the dropping of the atomic bomb.
Graduating the last year of Reconstruction, they lived in an era that went from horsepower to rocket power. Their lives were simple, and they witnessed many societal changes.
Graduates of 2015 will probably be asking: Will the changes we see over our lifetime be just as profound? Many of them will face the same things that faced the graduates in 1876. Their future could be fraught with peril, brimming with promise — a journey lies ahead for each of them. How they face it is a measure of their commitment to something larger than themselves.
Our AHS graduates will face many obstacles throughout their entry into college or the workforce. These important challenges all will require the intellect, insights, and innovative spirit that American’s “best and the brightest” can provide.
We of the current generation will be looking to them to find ways to successfully resolve these and many other compelling needs. No matter what the future holds for them, the little things they learned from other people will have the most impact on their life. They have experienced pain, happiness, tragedy and success, but it has always been as a class together, here at AHS.
At the end of their lives they will never regret not having passed one more test, not winning one more football game or not closing one more deal. They will regret time not spent with a friend, a parent and a loved one. Every experience they live, every interest they pursue, every book they read, and every person they meet educates them. The traditions are learned from their parents, friends, teachers, co-workers, classmates, teammates, coaches and people who have touched their hearts with their lives.
Education is perhaps the only wealth that cannot be taken from them. It is the bridge between cultures. Knowledge transcends education; it transcends the walls of Austin High School. The tradition lives on.