OPINION: Everybody is a star on graduation day

Jun. 9—I have always said one of the best days in most people's lives is graduation day.

It is the one day when you get to be in front of everybody and for one single moment you get to be in the limelight.

You are the only person who matters.

For many, graduating from high school is the biggest single accomplishment of their lives.

We have just wrapped up all of the local graduations in the area.

Because of lingering COVID-19 protocols, most of them were held outside this year.

Norwalk High School Principal Brad Cooley said it was the first time in the history of NHS that the commencement ceremony was held outside. The score is now 160 inside and 1 outside — and if you ask anybody who was at Contractors Stadium Saturday night they might tell you the 1 is leading.

What a beautiful night and a beautiful setting for a graduation ceremony. The only problem being outside, of course, is the chance you take with the weather.

I remember when I graduated back in 1975 from Stevenson High School in Livonia, Mich.

We had 750 in our class and our graduation ceremony was scheduled for a weekday evening. The school only had enough chairs to set up the event either inside or outside — not both.

Sometime during the day they decided the weather would be fine so they set up the chairs on the football field.

As the graduates gathered inside of the school before the ceremony, a big rain storm rolled in and the people sitting in the football stands got soaked.

We were inside and stayed dry.

When the storm passed we finally got the ceremony going. It turned out fine for the graduates, but we weren't the ones sitting in the rain.

We had no plan B.

Willard's graduation was set for the football field but had to be moved inside because of the weather. Western Reserve pushed its graduation back a day because of the forecast.

Other than that, everything worked out fine.

I've covered dozens of graduations over the years and they really never seem to get old. You get a wide range of speeches. When I hear the first words of a speech go something like this: "I didn't start writing until this morning," you usually don't get too much.

When you get a speech when the young girl said she has been practicing in the mirror for weeks, you usually get something pretty good. And Saturday night it was very good.

Some speeches are better than others, but all of them carry a message to remember.

Graduation is the last time everybody in the class will be together. Some will leave town and never come back. Some will leave town and come back for visits. Some will never leave town and be here forever.

In a blink of an eye the COVID Class of 2021 will be gathering for its five-year reunion in 2026, then its 10-year reunion in 2031.

We have an announcement in today's Reflector about the NHS class of 1971 preparing for its 50th reunion later this summer.

I bet there will be some pretty good stories that weekend.

So to all of the recent graduates, good luck and be safe as you venture out to the next phase of your lives.

Hopefully, your best days are ahead of you.

If you missed it, the annual grad guide featuring all of the area schools and graduates is on sale at the Reflector and Register offices for $1.

It's 44 pages of photos and memories to keep forever.

And maybe you can bring it with you when you gather for your 50th reunion in 2071.

Congratulations to all of our area graduates.

Joe Centers is Reflector managing editor. He can be reached at jcenters@norwalkreflector.com.