May 19th…“TELL ABOUT YOUR HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATION EXERCISES AND/OR TRADITIONS.”
The skull cap, with its mortarboard square top, settled uneasily onto my 18 year old pate.
Unlike the ancients of old, who initiated this traditional garb in recognition of their place in life as academic elites, this accessory of my graduation experience didn’t seem to fit the moment.
My past four years within these halls of education had been a blur, and even more troubling, they had been like a wandering without a goal in mind as to my future. Even though I was in a quandary as to what my next step in life was, graduation from Battle Ground High School was inevitably set in place and I was about to be a part of it, ready or not. Ceremonies on that placid Spring evening of May 26th, 1972, took place in what was then called the West Gym of our large school campus.
As culminating Seniors, and officially robed, our young figures restlessly occupied the hallway just outside the entry point of the gymnasium while parents and guests visited within the chamber of that auditorium.
Mr. Detchman (our High School Band Director) received his cue from Mr. Wiggins (our Principal) and raised his baton to bring the Symphonic Band to attention. Soon, the majestic musical notes of Sir Edward Elgar’s “Pomp & Circumstance” began to fill that cavernous gymnasium as Honor Society students (with golden shoulder cords) began filing into the room and taking their seats of recognition at the front near the presentation stage. The rest of our Senior class, including myself, were alphabetically following the Honor Society until all had taken their proper place in anticipation of speeches and ceremonies to come.
Having received my diploma on stage, I returned to my seat and mused upon my surroundings and these past four years of academia. One of my deepest regrets of that moment, and to this very day, was that I had failed to aim at a future career goal with my High School education. Sadly, instead, I had aimed at nothing and had hit my empty target…..bull’s-eye 😦 To the positive contrary, other fellow students had used those High School years as a launching pad towards their goals and had taken classes to lay the foundation that would elevate them to positions of honor in our community and the world around them.
As an example of one who did High School right, there was an exemplary classmate and fine young man by the name of Artie Nauman. Artie was a member of the Honor Society for his consistently high academic scores during those golden days. Through his high intellect and perseverance, Artie actually achieved the goal of what had been my aspiration, and that was to become a doctor specializing in Obstetrics & Gynecology. Through my High School years at Battle Ground School District, I always saw a pile of books under that young man’s arms as he moved from Chemistry, to Biology, to Trigonometry and other tough subjects during our years together at that dear alma mater. Ten long years of college and medical school loomed before him, but he was steadfast in his mindset and succeeded through it all.
As we former “Tigers” came together for our 10 year Class Reunion in 1982, I enjoyed connecting with Artie as he was about to launch into his own medical practice in the Washington, D.C. area. I sincerely identified and felt his passion for what was now his life calling and the joy I could see of it in his face and heart. He told me that night, “In comparison to General Medicine, delivering babies is a BLAST!! In the greatest percentage of cases, everyone goes home healthy and happy with a darling baby in their arms!!” I’m so glad that Artie had the determination and intellect to make his dream come true. It paralleled what would have been the dream of this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.