My Son, the Graduate

End of an era.

That’s how it occurred to me and Deb as we took our places in the grandstand at the High School last night.

However, the theme of the evening was First Class. Three years ago, Robbie’s sophomore class became the first class to take possession of Fairfield Ludlowe High School. The building had, to many of them, been the Roger Ludlowe Middle School, so after a year’s break, they were returning to familiar halls plus the unfamiliar sounds of construction.

The notion of separate but equal was the promise from the Board of Ed to the community but to the Class of ’06, it was a promise unfulfilled those first weeks. Finally, unhappy with feeling ignored, they staged a protest on November 20, 2003 and got their points across.

Clearly, this was going to be a class that would speak its mind. And they did in the following months and years as they put their imprint on the school, picking House names, schools colors, mascot and the like. No doubt there are plenty of unrecorded traditions and protocols that only the students know and that’s fine.

But, three years after taking the school and not having role models or mentors, they blazed a path, taking the subsequent grades with them and a path has been blazed. That path led to the football field last night for the Graduation Exercises. As these things go, it was a classy evening, filled with some rambunctious moments and some terrific words. Headmaster Nancy Larson, clearly beloved by the student body, gave a terrific speech complete with engaging story to keep the restless students entranced.

Deb scored us seats high up on the 50 yard line and she set up her tripod and digital camera and was able to snap away with abandon. With my mother beside us, we cheered and clapped throughout the night. It was fitting that Robbie marched on to the field next door to his friend Brooke. They’ve been like brother and sister since kindergarten and the completed the journey together.

After the recessional, we were taking pictures on the field. We had one eye on Robbie and one eye on the crowd so we could snap him with friends or favorite teachers. And there she was. We suspected she might be there. When Robbie was in second grade, he was blessed to be taught by Mrs. Betty Mulholland, who was wonderful with all the kids. It was her final year before retirement, but because she felt a special connection to the class, she turned up when they graduated elementary school and middle school. Now, despite living in Florida, she was there to see her final class graduate high school. No surprise, she was crowded with people but recognized Robbie instantly and reached up to give him a big hug.

Robbie’s spent his entire educational career in Fairfield and now it has come to an end. He’s ready for the next step, pleased with what he has accomplished and as I stated last week, we couldn’t be prouder of him.

It’s going to feel weird no longer performing the routine of public school parents, dialing to check for Snow Days or planning life around the school events calendar. The enormity of this milestone only hit Deb during dinner last night but it’s been building all year and now he is a graduate.

We pause this summer before the next chapter begins.