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Ceremony for rejoicing, celebrating
francis bond
Francis Bond lives in Richmond Hill, where he occasionally writes columns about things that interest him. - photo by File photo

There was nearly an audience sellout May 23 at the Savannah Civic Center, but still a few empty seats.

Those who were not there missed a very memorable event. It was that happy time of the year; it was the commencement. On that day, I heard someone say that it seemed like everyone in the world was graduating. I worried that there would be a problem of parking, but provisions were made to accommodate free parking.

First, the faculty members proceeded in to take their positions. What happened afterward was the impressive part. At a moment of silence, the conductor held his baton high and, with a downstroke, the Richmond Hill High School Orchestra (not band) played Sir Edward Elgar’s “Pomp and Circumstance March.” I got a lump in my throat.

It is a display of talent and a fantastic achievement when a musical director can take a bunch of shirttail kids and mold them into musicians. It was a moving experience. Although time didn’t permit, I had hoped for a little more musical performance.

Then, there they came — the seniors, 400 strong, proceeding in single file in harmony with the music, wearing their caps and gowns, and taking their seats. Some also wore gold-medallion pendants that noted honor students. Some wore white-and-blue stoles that indicated members of the National Honor Society. Some wore gold stoles that recognized members of the Beta Club. And then, there were some who wore the black-, blue-and-silver cords that noted members of the Governor’s Honor Program.

There were the presentation of the colors, the reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance and the playing of the national anthem. Then, there was the salutatorian address, the welcoming announcement to the students.

It’s a time when the students receive their credentials establishing their identity of who they are and where they are going. Actually, they were being introduced to our society to take their place as responsible citizens.

It was a time to be happy, to rejoice and to take pride. Across the audience, each time students’ names were announced and they stepped forward to receive their diploma, there were cheers and shouts from somewhere recognizing that student’s achievement.  

It never ceases to amaze me every year at these commencements. It is more than just stepping up and receiving a diploma; it tells us that there is hope for us all. It tells us that strides are being made from this first big step. Let’s not forget that among these students and from these beginnings can be the future governor of Georgia.

At the end of the procession, they were declared graduates of Richmond Hill High School. They threw their caps high into the air.

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