Tuesday, January 10, 2012

1902: It's a Marathon Commencement

As I write this my daughter is off to her last official day of high school.  It’s all downhill from here. The next few days leading up to Friday’s commencement ceremony will be filled with graduation practice, but her thirteen years of academic classes including kindergarten are over for her.

For the first time in twenty-two years I will not have to worry with excuse notes, teacher conferences, or deal with report cards. I will never be a room mother again, a PTA officer, or participate in a school fundraiser as a parent.
No more homework wars or the never-ending battle to get someone out the door before the tardy bell sounds. No more agonizing fraction lessons or mad dashes to the drug store for glue or poster board when a forgotten project is suddenly remembered at 9:30 at night.

Fairly soon back to school clothes shopping will be replaced with dorm room shopping, and she will be making that trek for school supplies on her own, in our immediate future is the commencement exercise–the graduation ceremony.     
My son’s graduation ceremony a few years ago was the first one I had experienced since my own in 1980, and I have to be honest here–the overall atmosphere had changed.

Back in my day–gee, did I really use that phrase?  Well, back in my day I remember my own ceremony being a bit reverent, fairly quiet and you could just sense the importance of the occasion. In fact, all of the graduations I went to as a young girl were rather sedate rites of passage whether they were held in a gymnasium, on a school lawn, or auditorium.  My sister’s graduation in 1974 was held at the old Municipal Auditorium in Atlanta where Georgia Championship Wrestling made its home for a while. Her ceremony was nothing like a wrestling match. I remember a stern admonishment from my mother regarding talking and fidgeting, so I had to forget thoughts of a takedown or a half Nelson pin.
Nowadays most graduation ceremonies are held on the school’s football field because of the large number of graduates and guests. While the atmosphere is still thick with the knowledge that an important milestone has been reached, and there is some seriousness to the occasion, the events are also loud with bullhorns, bells, whistles, cat calls, and sometimes it’s a little hard to hear your child’s name being called. Parents jostle for the perfect camera angle, people stand in front of the bleachers blocking your view, and if you don’t arrive at least three hours early grandma won’t get a seat.

Turn back the dials on my own version of Douglas County’s Way Back machine, and we might be attending the graduation exercises for Douglasville College.
Douglasville College was in existence from 1888 to 1914, and was founded at the insistence of Dr. T.R. Whitley, a citizen of Douglasville who wanted to educate his children locally. He was strongly opposed to boarding schools as the only means of providing higher education for youth. Unfortunately, his ideas were slow to catch on as many members of the town council were afraid to allocate any money for the school because they feared the idea would be unpopular with citizens.  They were wrong, of course, and pretty soon Douglasville College was built and opened where the armory sits along Church Street.  When I toured the Old Courthouse Museum several weeks ago I snapped an image of Douglasville College drawn by Steven Garrett and provide it here with this article...

THANK YOU for visiting “Every Now and Then” and reading the first few paragraphs of “1902: It's a Marathon Commencement“ which is now one of the 140 chapters in my book “Every Now and Then: The Amazing Tales of Douglas County, Volume I”. 

Visit the Amazon link by clicking the book cover below where you can explore the table of contents and read a few pages of the book…plus make a
purchase if you choose! 


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