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I graduated High School today. I put on my cap and gown, and walked across the stage, in the bright lights at the Eastman Theatre in Rochester.

I woke up at 6:30 this morning. The sky was grey and it was raining. I took a shower and didnt say a word for nearly 2 hours. I put on my black dress shirt, tan dress pants and a bright red tie as the colors of my school are red and black. I got into the car with my parents and my grandmother, sitting in the drivers side back seat. I leaned my head on the window, still gentley raining outside, with the sky still dark.

To get to the Eastman Theatre, we had to get on the parkway. That meant we had to drive past the high school. Hilton High School. Where I had spent the last 4 years of my life learning, making friends and living life. The raindrops fell harder and faster as we passed by. I say the old brown brick section, with the large windows. I heard my self saying the names of the teachers in those rooms. Mr. Farmham. Mr. D'Agusstine. Ms. Saxton. Mr. Hanson. Mr. Heise. Ms. Jasen. And then we moved past the new addition to the high school, that was built while I was in middle school, and completed during my Freshman year. As we drove by, I felt like it was mine. I had grown up with it, lived with it for its whole life. I was there for it. A strange feeling for a building, but seeing myself drive by and not stop and turn into the parent drop off finally got the better of me. I didnt cry, but my eyes watered and burned with tears. I crained my neck to get a final look at the school was we rounded the road.

Eventually, we arrived in the city and pulled into the parking garage. My mother helped me put on my black gown. I watched the class mates: guys in black and girls in red, begen to march through the parking garage with their families. I put on my cap, and made sure the tassle stayed on the right hand side. I walked down the parking garage and made my way into the street with other parents and students. Eventually, word got to me that all the students were supposed to meet up front, near the Killbourn Hall enterence. All my graduating class mates. 318 of us. Under a grey sky, but it would not rain. I found myself talking to my friends, and even kids I didnt know or like. Everyone was shaking hands and getting pictures.

We finally made inside the hall and spent the next hour continuing to socialize and form into the lines we would follow to enter the Theatre. A beautiful threatre with 2 balconies, Renaissance arts painted on the walls and the stage with several wooden chairs. The event proceeded like normal. And our principal and important people in the school system made speaches.

I sense of realization of my accomplishment had alluded me through out the event, untill our principal asked us to stand, and move our tassles from the right to the left. Euphoria unlike any other I had felt raced through me and I smiled a big, bright smile for my whole class to see. Finally, time had come to walk across the stage.

As I entered the hallway, with the kids in my row, we stepped behind the stage and picked up tiny miniature cell phones. As we crossed the stage, we would drop them into a jar. This represented our school's quest to eliminate cell phones use during class, with their "Off and away during the day" campaign. The phone I grabbed was blue. And I stood next to my 11th grade english teacher, and good friend, Mr. Heise. I stayed just being the open curtain as he read my name. "Benjamin David McCracken".

The applause was polite, with a few yelps from the students. I wasnt the most popular kid, but I had molded a cult-like status with my class mates who didnt really know me, but thought I was awesome. Only a few steps across the stage, I lifted me arms in an "are you kidding?!?!?!" manner. The applause grew slightly louder, with more yells from ther student section. To which I gave a thumbs up to the audience. I walked to Mr. Bartalo, the principal across the stage. Shook his right hand and grabbed by diploma with my left. All at the same time, I turned to a camera and smiled for a school sponsored photo. A quick flash, and I made my way back to my seat. And helped hit a beachball through the students as more and more names were read off.

After all the names were called, Mr. Bartalo presented the class of 2008 and we threw out caps into the air. I managed to catch my own cap as it fell to me. We left the stage and entered the Killbourn Hall once again. We had graduated. I joined my class mates as we hugged anyone who wasnt already being hugged. From simple one arm, casual hugs, to bear hugs that lasted minutes to even kisses on the lips between anyone and everyone. Guys and girls cried, even sobbed into our shoulders.

As I was wandering around, I found the girl I had a major crush on while in elementary school. She came running at me and I just looked at her. She stopped infront of me and just said "We made it." "Yeah. We did." I replied. In a second we grabbed each other tightly. The following 2 minute was a mixture of back breaking hugs, tears and a rather akward kiss infront of 300+ people. We parted only a few seconds before one of her girlfriends came racing in and grabbed her in a hug. I looked at her, and just gave her a simple wave. With her head on her friend's shoulder, she took one hand off her friend's back, making a fist, and then extending her thumb and pinky finger and putting it to her head and mouthed, "Call me."

I smiled and walked away quietly.

Its hard to imagine, but even better then that encounter, was when we stepped outside. And saw the sky a perfect shade of blue, and the sun shining down on all of us. And just like the morning, I felt the burn in my eyes from wanting to cry. Only this time, those tears had a whole new meaning.


(I'll have the picture of me with the principal, shaking his hand with the diploma up, as soon as it is available to me)

and of course...

congrats to THE CLASS OF 2008!!!!

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I"m going to graduate in three years. My freshman year was miserble, I hope it gets better. It sounds like you had a wonderful 4 years and made some great friends, congradulations.

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Haha, I didn't think too much of graduating high school, except for the fact that I was getting out of there. I miss it now because I barely get out today and that was a daily thing for me to go where people were, and I didn't really think much of it at all once I got my diploma except that I'm the first in my family to graduate. My mother dropped out at 15, my dad was gonna graduate but had to drop out to care of his cancer stricken mother and help with his siblings, and my sister dropped out at 16. So it's something that I graduated, but in the end, it didn't change my life like "omg I got married" or some bullshit like that. I always thought I was gonna drop out, but I didn't. Yay me.

Oh, you graduated? oh, Yay! :P

Forgot about you. Good going.

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