By Terrance Gavan – HalHighlands.ca
I tried to go back there.
But for the life of me I can’t remember.
I cannot remember my own graduation from St. Pius X High School.
I think it’s because I really didn’t feel like, you know, leaving.
So I went back for games, I went back to referee basketball. I went back to coach basketball.
I went back for three years well, mostly, because my wife-to-be was still in school.
My high school days were not marred by any angst, bullying, fear or disenchantment.
My uncle Joe Gavan was the treasurer and he lived in a little white house right on the campus.
My uncle the Reverend Donald Francis Gavan coached me in water polo, spent time as principal, and taught me three maths in Grade 13 – nooooo I’m not going to explain what grade 13 is.
It was a long time ago.
I learned to play guitar in Grade 13. We had a common room. With sofas and twin televisions. We watched Henderson score that goal in the common room. I hope everyone knows that Yvon Cournoyer – the Roadrunner and a Habs stalwart – actually won that game.
He got the tying goal and assisted on Henderson’s fluky tap. So Leafs’ fans? Sorry. But you can’t rewrite history! Only Stalin can do that. Okay so Mao too. Yes, yes… and Alexander the Great. But not you Leafs fans. Not until you’ve won at least one battle! So. The Habs contributed way more to that ’72 series than the Leafs. Period. Ask Alan Eagleson. No. On second thought? Bad idea. Ask Sam Pollock! Aha. Now that’s History! Habs History!
Now why can I remember all those good times at Pius and not my actual graduation day? I don’t know. I remember the great times we had at Pius. The games. basketball every night of the week. 7 pm to 10:30-11-midnight. Basketball crazy. I remember. The work. The years I spend debating. Playing guitar with the boyz. But for the life of me I cannot remember the night.
I remember the past four grads I’ve been involved with at Hal High. Every year I seem to know more of the students. Not well. I’m the fly on the wallwith the camera; and high school kids scare the hell out of me.
Not in any innate way. I’m cool with em all. It’s just because they’re so young. And I can still remember that youth and that time. When the prospect of what life holds. Unfolds. And flows. Hal High grads of 2011?Lucky lucky lucky!
They’ve got the rest of their life in front of them. They’ve got choices.
Me? I’m freaking old! My god. And here’s the rub. Graduations are always way more important for the old grads than the new. Because it leads to introspection. Scary proposition. But worthy of exploration especially for the morons- moi – who have made some pretty crazy choices.
It’s why I smiled all the way through this commencement. The karma always passes over an audience at a commencement. Why. Youth baby! It’s catching. It’s the antithesis of maudlin introspection which in the end?
Gets us nowhere.
Bottom line? Grads are important. To the students. To the teachers and to the families. To the spectators.
But not as important as the years that lead up to them.
That’s what we saw Wednesday night (June 29) in the Hal High Red Hawk nest. The years in denouement.
Nestled beneath the banners and underneath the hoops a lot of parents friends and relatives gathered to remember those years.
Projects, tears, laughter, games, fun and fears.
Thru that solidarity?
Comes this yearly melange of celebration.
Irv Sternberg – the vice – gave a heartfelt and very warm speech.
Mr. Dan the Man Marsden came out with a hip-hop, scattered bee-bop and soft sop jam that was part poesy, part prose, and part wacky trip into the songs of his youth, mellowed and sometimes bellowed into a quirky blend of Green Day and some other lyrics that had way too much hip for this guy’s hop.
Dan you are the man. It was his first commencement as principal and he had his predecessor school trustee Gary Brohman smiling with the rest of the gathered throngs in that packed gym.
Brohman, when he got up, as usual received the biggest screech of the night from the grads.
The long time principal at Hal High finished with the traditional: “Once a Hawk? Always a Hawk!” rejoinder.
On to Teghan Dodds, valedictorian.
Lovely speech. Lovely young woman.
She spoke clearly and with tactile grace. She spoke of friendships and teachers and moving on.
I could expound but I think what I’ll do is edit some excerpts and place it up here shortly.
Teghan Dodds articulates the hopes and sashays of all her classmates.
Valedictorians rock and I do remember that our Valedictorian was one of my best friends and my debating partner Greg Howard.
He was a very smart lad.
I got him elected as Head Boy – don’t ask – in Grade 12. Ran his campaign.
He took lead in our competitive all-Ontario debates. So see?
I do remember that grad of mine.
I was just a fly on the wall.
It’s I guess what I’ve always done.
And from my catbird seat last Tuesday night?
I felt like a lucky observer because I got to share in all of that catharsis.
Congrats to all the grads.
You as always rock boys and girls!