As a high school teacher, commencement (or graduation) is a bittersweet time. On one hand, you are so proud of the young men and women who are moving on to the next stage of their lives; most of them will be entering college, some have unknown destinations. There is the feeling of relief when some of the more, shall we say “challenging” students receive their diploma and a feeling of excitement (with some trepidation and sadness) when those great students you really connected with and got to know cross the stage.
I feel very privileged, that as a drama director I get to know my students both inside and outside of the classroom. I spend 15-20+ hours a week with these kids on nights and weekends and really hear about their triumphs and struggles throughout their high school career. I hear the rants about assignments, parents who “don’t get it”, friends who have wronged them, and see the fall outs of breakups, college rejections, and the bad grade on the test. I hope I can provide them with some insight, coping strategies, advice from someone with more experience, a shoulder to cry on and most importantly someone who cares and will listen to them. On the flip side, I get to enjoy the successes too; the hard work to earn the A, the college acceptance, the excitement of acing the audition, or the role in the show, and get to watch these students grow and mature, take positive risks and push them to do things they didn’t know they were capable of. I edit papers (for classes I don’t teach), brainstorm for college essays, write resumes, draft letters of recommendation, help pick songs and monologues for auditions, and spend countless hours running lines and teaching choreography (over and over).
I really know my students, which is something I treasure, they are not just a number on a transcript but real people I have had the joy of watching grow into (for the most part) extraordinary young men and women. Every year there are one or two that are particularly hard to say goodbye to. But for those, I know it is not really goodbye, I continue to hear from them through college as they grow and explore, and in many cases that is the best part of the job. To hear from the former students how something they did in class or rehearsal was helpful in the future, that is the goal… Preparation for “the real world”. A scary place, but one I know they are ready to enter.
So to those in the Class of 2012 are irreplaceable (you know who you are) keep in touch, let me know about your successes and challenges in the future, I know we will see great things from you. This isn’t the final curtain, simply the beginning of a new act. Break a leg!