I sat, as it happens, in very hard chair, the kind that has a spring in the seat so it wants to close up on you, and there is no place to put your arms or the things you have with you. The chairs were arrayed in steeply raked rows, facing a stage far below. The kids came in from the back, so you had to look over your shoulder, as one does at weddings.
The Elgar went around and around, on repeat. Boys came in flopping sneaker feet, lanky, not done yet. The girls came careful, in improbable heels. As one passed close to me I heard her muttering 'Jesus, don't fall, don't fall.' The room sloped away before her at a 45, in semi-darkness, with only the lighted stage ahead. She didn't fall though. None of them did, they were splendid.
There were speeches. the valedictorian, her second, the college advisor, the crew leaders, the director of lower grades, assorted teachers. There was a musical number, and a retrospective slide show. Most of the kids have been at the school since sixth grade (age 11.) So there were tears too, but the good kind.
Then the principal came up, she spoke briefly and they gave out the diplomas. The kids came up one by one, and as they crossed the stage some did a little dance or strut-- the boys mostly, goofy under weight of the moment. Every child got soundly hugged. Everyone in the seats cheered and stamped, and whistled, because this is, after all, Brooklyn.
I usually prefer to mark events by myself, with quiet thought, rather than in a crowd wearing a dress. I can feel the years passing, I know what is going by. But this was really good. I am glad it was just as it was.