Oh, to be young.
Anyone who said that was not referring to having that as your last name. It put Samantha Young on the end of the processional line at the opening of the College Heights Christian School graduation ceremony at Taylor Auditorium on the MSSU campus tonight.
It also put her pictures at the end of a video tribute midway through the ceremony, and...of course...Samantha was the last person to receive her diploma. The tiny blonde watched as each member of the class had his or her name called, moving one step at a time waiting for her turn to come.
After her name was called and she was handed the diploma, she posed for a picture with principal Randy Goldsmith, then returned to her seat.
That was the last time, Samantha would be at the end of the line, last name notwithstanding.
A few moments later, following the traditional turning of the tassels, led by newly-minted graduate McKenzie Watson, and it was Samantha Young's moment. She walked quickly to the lectern, where she spent several excruciatingly long seconds (for her, at least) searching for the prayer she had prepared for the benediction.
She began the prayer, speaking each word in a clear, lilting, musical voice. When the prayer was completed, she gazed out across the audience, taking a quick glance at her proud parents, James and Irene Young, seated about halfway back in the auditorium, then she gave the command signal she and her fellow graduates had been eagerly anticipating. "1, 2, 3," and on three, the black hats soared into the air, with the first one...this time she was number one...being thrown by Samantha Young.
I have always enjoyed personalizing events by focusing on one person. Normally, of course, this blog would not have anything about school graduations, other than critiquing how area newspapers handle them, but this was a special graduation, and Samantha Young is a special person.
She was one of the first students I taught during my first year at Diamond Middle School back in the 1999-2000 school year. Most of the year I had my desks arranged in a horseshoe fashion around the room with about eight chairs squarely in the middle in two rows of four. Samantha sat on the front row, and her writing sparkled from the opening assignment.
She was quiet in the classroom until it came time to write or until it was time for our discussions. Then she always showed poise and knowledge far beyond that of her peers.
Samantha was one of several students I featured when I wrote about Diamond's eighth grade graduation in May 2001 for Wildcat Central. That article featured just one short paragraph about her. My theme was the little voices that each of the eighth graders heard as they prepared for the ceremony:
The little voice Samantha Young heard was an echo of her parents' telling her what would be the proper posture for such a solemn occasion. "My parents have been telling me 'bring your shoulders back and keep your back straight.' " Samantha's parents proudly watched as their daughter followed the instructions to the letter.
She followed those instructions well tonight, also. Samantha will leave for a graduation trip to Florida tomorrow, then she will attend the University of Arkansas, where she will be a pre-med major.
Great things are in store for her. Congratulations, Samantha!