End of school heralded
by Juanita Hughes, columnist
May 20, 2014 09:46 PM | 476 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Juanita Hughes
Juanita Hughes
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Ah, that magic time, the last week of school, is almost here. Seems like just the other day that a new school term began, and there was our oldest great-grandchild going into first grade and her sisters entering public kindergarten, ready to set the world on its toes.

Even with snow and ice and furlough days, the year has flown by, and it has been an eye-opener to watch their progress from the sidelines. From another vantage point, there is a high school graduate among our clan, and the years leading up to that event seem short as well.

We’ve heard from a few other graduates, friends and relatives. Some have finished high school; one is getting a master’s degree in some kind of complicated science, one will soon be a certified pharmacy technician, whatever that is.

We have noticed over the years that more and more graduates are designing and printing their own announcements. Many schools must limit the number of guests at graduation exercises, a change from the good old days when everybody went to see siblings and cousins and descendants receive that precious piece of paper. All of those in attendance had received nice, formal invitations to the event.

Nowadays, in times of overwhelming population growth and overflowing schools, the change to announcements in place of invitations was necessary at many schools. (I love it when there is a limitless party invitation enclosed. Parties are lots more fun than graduation speeches.)

Personally designed announcements are turning into keepsakes. Usually there are some photos, making you wonder what happened to that toddler you once knew. And often the wording is much more interesting than those formal invitations used to be. One year, we received an announcement from a niece who told us the bare essentials and omitted the name of her school. (I don’t think she was a cheerleader.)

This year, one set of parents probably designed the card and, reminiscent of the days when parents announced wedding plans for their children, made the announcement, “We proudly announce the graduation of our son from Southeast High School Saturday evening, May 24th, 2014.” But they were achingly honest when they added that he “will be attending the Georgia State University to play baseball.” We can only hope that he will also get some book-learning while there.

We seem to hear a lot about testing these days. There’s nothing new about that. There have always been tests. There have always been those who pass, those who fail and those who excel. And there also have always been those for whom that system did not work simply because there are students who just can’t take tests.

It may be psychological or physical or mental, and probably unavoidable. And it may not matter in the long haul. When this subject comes up, I always think of those wretched piano recitals where my fingers suddenly turned to splintered sticks and my nerves left me stumbling and fumbling, trying to hurry to that last note and be done with it all. If that is how those test-takers muddled through, they have my sympathy.

I was encouraged to read recently that Latin is making a comeback. Although it seemed strange to me at the time, I have since been so thankful that my mother insisted that I take Latin in high school. After one year, I didn’t need her encouragement to take it for another year. I was hooked.

It was my favorite subject, and my only regret is that I didn’t take it for a third year as well. It may be called a “foreign language,” but that is a very misleading title. It is a language, but it is so much more. And it is not the language of any foreign country.

Latin students gain a love of our very own language that cannot be found in English textbooks. And they learn of ancient cultures and peoples and their geography and history, and how our own culture and that of countless other countries has been and continues to be influenced by all that is Latin. So there is hope for a new generation of lovers of our own language as Latin works its way back into the curriculum.

In the meantime, it’s summertime and parents are being advised to keep books and reading in their children’s activities in the weeks ahead. And to the graduates, remember, graduation isn’t an end to learning; it’s only the beginning. And in case you didn’t take the real Latin, Appy-Hay Aduation-Gray Ay-Day!

Juanita Hughes is retired head of the Woodstock Library.

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