School’s Out… for ever
To say this is a major weekend would be significantly under-stating the case. There’s the Ian McLagan show at the Bearsville Theater tonight, and the small matter of the marathon distance I’m racing across the Catskill Mountains’ Devils Path tomorrow. (Don’t worry, I’m doing less than half of the full 56 mile race. And no, that’s not a typo.) But that pales into insignificance alongside the fact that, today, our older son Campbell graduates from Onteora High School.
For the Brits amongst us, especially those like me who left school at 16, the notion of a High School Graduation is somewhat alien. In the States, it’s intended as a rite of passage. (I say ‘intended,’ because not everyone graduates). Tonight, Campbell will be in gown and mortar hat, and I’ll be in a suit, doubling up in my position on the School Board from which I hope to be able to personally present him with his diploma.
Secondary school, as I recall only too vividly in Boy About Town, is not easy for everyone. There are those who thrive on the academic challenges and the social milieu, but from what I can tell, the majority of students inevitably have difficult periods as they go through adolescence and all the various emotional mayhem that entails. The regimen at high schools in America is significantly more involved than it was back in South London in the 1970s and it is only getting more so. Even my 8-yr old knows things that I hadn’t learned by the time I took my O-Levels at 16. And thanks to modern facilities the likes of which we could never imagine back in London, Campbell has been able to undertake advance art and film-making classes that have made the hard work of seriously difficult (and mandatory) civics projects that much more bearable.
Posie and I are so very very proud of Campbell, not only for graduating, but for being accepted into Champlain College in Burlington, where this fall he will start a four year course in Game Art and Animation, at one of the top schools in the country for what some might call ‘the new music industry.’ Engaging in much-needed spring cleaning of my storage closet, I found the folder full of cards he has drawn for me over the years which have, like his school work, grown in complexity over the years. Most of them entail inside family jokes, which is why I don’t often share them, but they demonstrate that Campbell has a sense of humor way beyond that of his parents. They are also intensely beautiful; there has never been any question but that Campbell is a superb visual artist. (And if it’s genetic, he inherits that from Posie; I still can’t draw a stick figure.) Having seen Champlain for myself, I am truly envious of his forthcoming four years – hard work not discounted.
But college is still a few months away. Tonight, after ‘Commencement,’ as it’s called – and another example of how Toto, I’ve a feeling we are not in South London any more – the new Graduates are bused to an all-night, alcohol-free party at Belleayre Mountain, and bused back again at 7 in the morning. How utterly and totally cool to finish high school with an officially sanctioned, safe-student all-nighter.
As I don’t usually get this personal on my author page, I have been wrestling with whether I should post one of Campbell’s home-made cards, rather than a picture of him before his High School Prom, two weeks ago. Maybe I’ll scan and upload a short album of the more accessible cards in time – I know there are people out there who would appreciate them. But I also know there are people who stop by here who have known Campbell since he was a baby, in Manhattan and London, or as a child in Brooklyn, and I hope they enjoy seeing him now as a 17-yr old, one-step-away-from-being-an-adult, dressed for Prom. And in case you’re wondering, yes I am getting misty-eyed. Love you, Campbell. Congratulations.