Graduation was a huge deal - I think more for my family than myself. It turns out there were only a few in my clan who graduated before me, and my immediate family seemed proud of my accomplishment.
But for me, it just seemed a natural course of events. And, honestly, at the time I was much more excited and focused on what lie ahead, instead of worrying about some official ceremonies and parties.
I knew I wanted nothing more than to study journalism and I had my sights set on completing whatever schooling necessary to become a reporter. Little else evoked a blip on my radar.
Well, fast forward 30 years. I'm not only still immersed in the world of community newspapers and gearing up for a milestone reunion this fall with my D.W. Poppy classmates, I'm also preparing to celebrate another momentous occasion - my beloved niece Cassidy is graduating from high school this week.
I now understand what all the fuss was about in 1982. I'm filled with that same sense of overwhelming pride and pleasure that must have consumed my family at my graduation.
While Cassidy is graduating from my alma mater's arch rival (Brookswood) - or at least it was back in my day - I'm gushing with respect and admiration for all she achieved to get to this point and to complete Grade 12.
Honestly, there were a few times during her high school years, when she was receiving medical care for not one but two broken femurs, that graduation seemed unlikely.
But, as I'm writing this, she has prevailed. In fact, she's beaming right now because she found the perfect grad dress and shoes for Friday's big party at Cascades Casino, and the biggest dilemma she's facing in her life is how she'll manage to attend the dinner and subsequent dry-grad party that goes to 5 a.m., then get home to pack up all her critical belongings before heading off Saturday morning for a summer of working out of town.
I'm beaming too - of course - because she's graduating. But also because she's sharing with me her vision for life after this summer.
She's talking excitedly about a future of postsecondary studies that will allow her to pursue either a career in business or a profession of caring for people living with special needs (she's specifically interested in helping the autistic).
To Cassidy: Graduating is an incredible feat. Take some time this week to revel in your tremendous accomplishments and celebrate this milestone. And, above all, know that your entire family is incredibly proud.
Now, I can't rewind the clock and take my own advise. But I can and do look forward to my aforementioned 30-year reunion coming up in September. That's a party I won't miss.
We were a close group, and in part that may have been because we were the first graduating class of D.W. Poppy Secondary.
What that meant for some - especially those who had grown up together and attended elementary classes together before migrating to Poppy - was keeping the "family" together. We were glad to stay with the friends, classmates, and teachers we already knew. And most of all, were glad not to be swallowed up in the masses of the must larger secondary schools such as Langley or Aldergrove.
Admittedly, most of us have since lost touch with each other. I know there are some who have remained friends, and in fact, I consider myself fortunate to have stayed close to a few from the Class of '82. But honestly, not many.
Being back in my hometown of Langley again, I have enjoyed running into a few other classmates - whether it be in my capacity with the newspaper or in the Wal-Mart lineup. But I'm looking forward to this reunion as a chance to catch up with others - to find out what's happened for them through the years.
I'm calling all my 1982 (and 1983) Poppy alumni to join in the festivities. Anyone who graduated from Poppy in those two years is invited to attend Sept. 22, just contact the appropriate class organizers via email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.