Friday, June 5, 2009

The Class of Bent Twigs

Graduation week's over, here in Loonfoot Falls. The high school graduation was a week ago, the elementary school had their commencement exercise Wednesday, and families are settling back into a routine.

So are stores in town: Finkle's Jewelry's 'class ring alternatives' catalog is gone for the year; Deuce Hardware has fishing tackle where the 'Congratulations Graduate' party supplies were; and Coalworth's swapped out their graduation paraphernalia for an array of sun hats, bagged charcoal, and insect repellent.

The school's quieter, now, but not quite empty. There's summer school, an adult education program and community events like toy shows, and craft fairs.

This year's high school graduation ceremony was covered elsewhere in the Loonfoot Falls Chronicle-Gazette. I think it's safe to say, though, that it doesn't match the ceremony that showed the Class of 1969 out the door.

The valedictorian that year was David Schmidt. Reminiscences by his classmates showed that he had a less-than-somber attitude toward ceremony and protocol. He had, for the crowning of the homecoming queen, sailed an envelope containing the judge's decision a clear twenty feet. Accidentally, he insists to this day.

That graduation day, standing at the podium, in academic cap and gown, young Mr. Schmidt intoned a familiar quote from "The works of Alexander Pope," 1822:

" 'Tis education forms the common mind;
Just as the twig is bent the tree's inclin'd."

He bowed his head briefly: moved, perhaps. Then he ran his eyes over the audience and began his address: "My fellow bent twigs...."

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