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October 15, 2021

Graduations are supposed to be special occasions. That’s why Hallmark and the rest of those giants offer so many greeting cards to celebrate the occasion.

I did not attend my junior high school graduation because of unusual circumstances. A few months before, I broke my leg very badly (two hundred pieces) and had been placed in a special school for the handicapped. Obviously, I wasn’t permanently handicapped but my doctor felt it best for me to leave my regular school and go to an environment that was safer. Hence, I did not attend my Olive Vista Junior High School graduation and the handicapped school had no such luxuries.

The following fall, I entered Sylmar High School and spent the next three years there. When it came time to graduate, there were a couple of snafus. The first was that I was simply too poor and uninterested to purchase luxuries such as class rings, special photos and the like. The second problem was the graduation prom party and the expense and nonsense it entailed. In the end I did attend the graduation ceremony but not post-graduation party. Instead, my surfer friends and I went to Malibu Beach on graduation prom night and had a graduation party of our own. It was a low rent affair. I distinctly remember that we had meatball sandwiches from Subway and a few six packs of beer. In the ways of the time, we also took to the waves at night and had a great time. I had my diploma and that was all that counted as I planned to head to college immediately.

When I arrived at San Fernando Valley State College (now University of California at Northridge), I was determined to graduate in three years instead of the usual four. I accomplished that goal but it put my graduation in the winter semester and the ceremonies back then were only done for the summer semester. I couldn’t attend the summer graduation ceremony because I was already enrolled in grad school with the goal of completing two master’s degrees in one and a half years. There was no time for pomp. Remembering high school, I did buy a class ring and insisted that it be the solid 14k gold version. It was hideous. I still have it but have worn it only three times.

I can still recall the actual day that I graduated college. They said they would mail me the diploma so I decided to stop by my parents’ house to share the news that I had graduated at the top of my class. Their response was cool to say the least and consisted of. “That’s nice…” After all in our house, everyone was expected to graduate at the top of the class.

So there it is. I did not attend any post graduation parties and barely made an appearance at my high school graduation. I did capitulate to one ceremonious act. After my university changed their name, they asked if I wanted my degrees and teaching credentials reprinted to reflect the new name. I agreed but the only one I still have hanging in my den was the original undergraduate diploma signed by Governor Ronald Reagan.

To me, graduations aren’t really that important. It’s what you do after you graduate that makes the difference.  For me it has been a long and satisfying road since all of those graduations. And by the way, I never did receive one of those graduation cards in all my years. It’s just as well – I still have my cheesy, heavy ring to comfort me.

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Read author Allen E. Rizzi’s latest books available at


  1. Steve Self permalink

    Much of our lives mirror the other. Interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. James Rogers permalink

    Good God Allen How in the Hell did you Break your Leg into 100 Pieces ? I didn’t Get to do any of the Post Graduation Stuff Because I was already Married .. We both missed out on all the things you do during that time.. But we Did end up with 2 Great Sons ..

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I agree with your assessment that graduation ceremonies are less important than how one uses what one learns, Allen. Although I didn’t have to overcome the challenges you encountered, I only attended the last ceremony. It was for the sake of my family and to honor the advisor who was instrumental in a symbolic accomplishment for one of the few Native American students to earn a doctorate from the university I attended. I have been thinking about him lately, grateful for his support and encouragement during the difficult journey. I have tried to follow his example and be as helpful and supportive for the mostly first-generation college students in the classes I have continued to teach even beyond formal retirement.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Excelent!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I came from humble beginnings and had a choice my senior year/birthday – $ to have a class ring or $ to put towards new tires for my car – since I worked fulltime 40 miles (one-way commute) 4-6 days a week while attending school and winter was approaching – I took the tires – lettered in sports and received pins for NHS, Drama, Choir, Debate, etc., but never wasted funds on a lettermans jacket to put them on – they are somewhere stored away in my childhood memory box – :).

    I attended HS graduation because my parents wouldn’t allow me to graduate early and start community college after the winter break – my mom made my prom dresses or I bought off the clearance rack from 1-2 years ago fashions (marked down) I’ve taken college courses over the years and certification classes in various places, but never obtained a degree –

    But I attended my classes graduation party – because we were a hardworking, money raising class and also down to earth – a pasture with old campsite infrastructure put in from generations before ranching hands who did fall and spring round ups of cattle – – camping equipment, coolers full of food, beer, etc., and no one drinking was allowed to leave, they had to camp out and stay the night – – I and one other classmate stayed up all night and watched the sun come up – we spoke of family, the future, philosophy, history, our fave books, etc., and well – it made me glad my parents insisted I finish out the full time – – for one last time, I spent nearly 24 hours with 22 other classmates, that, many, I had known for most of my life.

    Thank you for the memories your post evoked, hope you don’t mind I shared them with you – 😀

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Ceremonies are SO ceremonial. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I attended all my graduations, but the first two college ones I only did to please my parents. I was most glad to attend the ceremony in 2007 when I got my second bachelors – the one I wished I’d gotten back in the 80s. High school? Ugh.

    Liked by 2 people

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