Graduation ends one chapter of life


The next two weeks are special for high school students throughout Wayne County.

You will turn your tassels and enter into the “real world.”

You’ll experience a journey full of twists and turns, drama and mistakes that will teach you life lessons. Many of you, I’m sure, have already experienced a few dramatic turns during your “prep” years in the classroom.

I must say it’s an emotional time.

And it brings back memories of when I graduated 37 years ago.

Our ceremony was held on the football field, barely 100 yards from a creek infested with pesky mosquitoes that swarmed around us on a humid evening.

God forbid if we took our caps off to swat at them.

It lasted for close to two hours.

The largest chunk of time involved presenting diplomas to 300-plus seniors.

We anxiously awaited to hear our named called.

Once I walked onto the stage and received that sheepskin, I wanted to jump for joy. One chapter of my life had closed and another one had opened.

Goosebumps covered my arms.

Tears clouded my eyes.

I walked back to my seat, traded high-fives with one of my friends and we patiently waited for the final part of the ceremony.

After everyone crossed the stage and sat down, next came the words we had eagerly anticipated to hear all year, “I now pronounce you seniors as graduates of the class of 1985 at SouthWest Edgecombe High School.”

I turned my tassel from right to left.

Seconds later, we departed the stadium while our parents and friends shouted from the bleachers.

I quickly looked for my two best buds and asked mom to take our picture. Her camera flashed and froze the moment in time. There were no cellphones in those days.

Numerous photos were taken on that steamy night in June. Sadly, I can find but just two reminders of that wonderful evening.

Yearbooks that document my four years in high school sit on a shelf in one of my closets.

I’ll pull one out from time to time and glance at the club photos, or our individual pics — especially if I hear about a classmate who is going through a struggle or one who has unexpectedly passed away.

High school is a special time in your life.

Live every day and cherish every moment you can.

Four years go by quickly.

The experiences and memories, however, last a lifetime.

Rudy Coggins is assistant editor of the Mount Olive Tribune. He can be reached at


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