Class 3 Assignment – Changing Voices

This assignment called for an activity to be experienced and viewed by several people, with the narration giving various viewpoints of the activity from some of those people. I chose an eighth grade graduation, in description of which I recalled parts of my own. Were you there?


Changing Voices


He’s so handsome and tall… such a fine looking young gentleman in his coat and tie… and he looks just like his father, thought his mother, as she watched him walking down the aisle.. It looks like he might be outgrowing those pants. They’re practically new!

I’m so proud of him… look at him all dressed up and handsome … how did he get to be this old? …and he looks just like his mother, thought his father as he watched him walking down the aisle. I’m glad I remembered to have him shine his shoes.

The double row of boys and girls, all dressed in coats and ties or dresses, solemnly walked down between the two halves of the standing audience.

I hope he’s as uncomfortable in his coat and tie as I am in mine, squirmed his little brother as he watched him walking down the aisle. “It would be funny if he tripped or did something dumb.

Very good… hold your heads up high… act like proper young ladies and gentlemen just like we practiced, thought Miss Kinderhof, his homeroom teacher, as she watched the class walking down the aisle. That’s it boys, behave yourselves

I love this moment… presiding over such formality … the pomp of the circumstances… the gathering of the school… the pride of the parents…thought the Principal from on the stage in front, nodding his head to the tune as he watched the procession of well-dressed eighth graders filing up the aisle toward their seats directly in front of him. I just love this music!

Okay, there’s Mom and Dad and Tommy… watch where you’re going, goofhead, don’t bump into Barb… man I can hardly wait until this is over… I’m hungry… they said they’ll serve pizza afterwards, I thought to myself as I walked slowly down the aisle between the rows of chairs, with all the parents and families watching and looking, expectant faces jostling in the crowd to get a better view of the marchers. My stomach is growling.

The processional slowly poured its way into the first two rows of seats, well-rehearsed and without any noticeable incident other than a few quietly unintelligible mutterings from some of the marchers.

The Principal stepped forward to the podium, nodding to Mrs. Gladwall at the piano, waited for a few bars as she smoothly ended the music, and then he motioned for everyone to be seated.

The gathering seemed to deflate into their seats and an expectant hush settled down from the collective susurration.

I hope he won’t talk too long, thought his parents, his little brother, Miss Kinderhof, myself and everyone else in the gym as the Principal took out what appeared to be a thick sheaf of papers from the inside of his suit jacket.

A collective mental groan silently filled the gymnasium.

Alright… showtime, thought the Principal with the hint of a smile…

“Greetings and welcome to the graduation ceremonies for the eighth-grade class of 1965,” he spoke out to the audience in front of him. He looked around, held up the papers and said, “These aren’t my notes, this is a list of you all,” gesturing with them to the first two rows.

These are my notes,” and he held up a single sheet of paper that was already on the podium, now smiling openly.

A collective mental sigh silently filled the gymnasium, with a few scattered chuckles accenting the overt relief.

The speech was pertinent, “A big step in your life,” inspiring, “You have the future in your hands,” and short, “Thank you.” The graduates filed up to the steps at stage right one row at a time, climbed up and waited as each individual name was called out. That person strode forth, received their diploma, shook hands with the Principal, continued across the stage and stepped down the far side to resume their seat.

The process was exciting for everyone involved as the graduate of their interest walked across the stage and received their diploma. Applause was held off to speed things along.

I hope these tears don’t spoil my make-up, his mother thought as she watched him step down the stairs with his diploma in hand. He’s so young to be going to high school. But look how big he is.

I hope I don’t cry with the pride I feel, his father thought as he watched him step down the stairs clutching his ticket into high school. What a big step that must seem to him… I remember it felt like it for me,like the top of the world.  And, with a wry smile, Then freshman year at the bottom of the pecking order!

Nuts, he didn’t trip… so is this almost over? I’m about to cry this is so boring, his little brother thought as he watched him step off the stairs holding the thing he was given.

I could just cry with pride at these fine young ladies and gentlemen… well, most of them are anyway, Miss Kinderhof thought, as her erstwhile charges matriculated beyond her jurisdiction, but not beyond the nurturing fruits of her efforts.

…read the name, hand the diploma, shake the hand, remember to smile, …read the name, hand the diploma, shake the hand, remember to smile, …the Principal was thinking to himself in a semi-automatic state.

Man, I got it… finally! …now let’s get this over with and get some pizza, I thought impatiently, as I stepped down the few steps to sit and wait for the rest of the class to receive their alpha-numerically arranged moment in the spotlight.

And eventually, after the Becky Zybrinski finally stepped down and returned to the last open chair, the Principal spread his arms, motioned to the graduates to stand, turn and face the audience, and then declared, “I present to you the graduating class of 1965!”

The applause lasted long enough for the graduates to all troop out to the hall to wait for their families to join them.

“You looked so handsome up there,’ his mother said, thinking, My little boy is a young man now…

“Congratulations, graduate! I’m very proud of you,” declared his father, thinking, He’s still so young and has a long way to go…

“Lemme see it,” his little brother demanded of the diploma. “Fancy,” when he got it,  followed by the thought, Not much to it, but I guess it’s kind of cool…

“So good to see you,” Miss Kinderhof greeted his parents as she stepped up to them, thinking, I will miss these good people, but their other son only has a few more years before he’s in eighth grade…

Social time and feeling the moment, this is what makes it fun, thought the Principal as he glad-handed his way through the throng.

I just stood wearing a smile thinking, I’m hungry, let’s go eat pizza!

The crowd gradually flowed into the reception area where the food tables were loaded with lunch for all.

Oh, the pizza looks good… maybe just one piece, thought his mother.

Oh… pizza… that sounds pretty good, thought his father.

Oh cool… pizza! thought his little brother.

Ah well, a piece of pizza to celebrate the day, thought Miss Kinderhof.

Pizza. Good. I’m hungry, thought the Principal.

And I thought, Wow… look at those desserts!

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