by Chasidy Day ’17
The Lincoln Academy Class of 2016 marching up Academy Hill before their Baccalaureate Ceremony, led by Head of School David Sturdevant.
High school is a journey. As cliche as it may seem, it is the time where you set yourself up for the rest of your life. You not only have to worry about growing up, but you now have to figure out how to balance many things at a time. It can be difficult, but it can be fun.
First, when students begin high school, they experience Freshman orientation. Your journey starts off and freshman year begins, throwing a load of homework, friendships, endless emotions, and new experiences your way. This can be an overwhelming time, but it calms down after a bit. Then, comes the first summer of high school. Ahh, one year has been accomplished.
Around comes the end of August and the beginning of September, and it is time for Sophomore year. The year can drag on, and it can seem crazy, but at this point, it’s a routine that is familiar. You may stress about your I-Search paper, or maybe you worry about the future, wondering how in only 2 short years ahead of you, it will be over just like that. Summer rolls around, and there’s another sense of relief.
Junior year brings, what some think to be, the craziest year of high school. Teachers prepare you by testing your abilities through projects, homework, and quizzes, while you try to balance school with your social life, too. Junior year presents itself with the most intimidating tasks that will be completed by the end of the year: SAT’s, AP exams, American Author Papers, Junior Prom, searching for college plans, and so much more! By the end of this year, you might feel drained. Stress and time management skills are something you might have mastered by this point, but there’s still so much to come.
Senior year might be the most important year of all. It’s the end, which is bittersweet. So much has been accomplished over four years, it’s such a relief to know that this is the final stretch, that you have almost made it to the grown up world where you’ll be faced with tremendous responsibilities. But then there’s the other side of it; when graduation comes and you walk down the aisle with all of your best friends, you’ll then be parting ways. No one can say it’s forever, but everyone now has their own thing to do. You’ll no longer be arriving at 7:45 on Friday for Morning Assembly to listen to Mr. Mullin read aloud passages, or to answer Mr. Page’s trivia questions. Things won’t be the same, but they will be new and different as the new chapter of life begins.
Graduation is what ties this change together. It signifies and celebrates the success of completing high school and moving on to do more.
Medieval manuscripts show images of students in gowns and caps similar to those we use now.
Graduation began with a series of traditions. Since then, the traditions have both carried on and improved and changed in slight ways. The first universities date back to the 12th and 13th centuries. This is when the first graduation took place. It’s hard to pinpoint an exact year, but we have learned about the origin of graduation ceremonies. Most professors were monks, priests, and clerics. Students and teachers wore clerical clothing because of religion’s great influence. Scholars during this time wore long robes and hoods to keep warm. Hoods were also seen in Celtic groups and Druid priests because they symbolized power and intelligence. Graduation/school attire was mostly inspired by medieval universities.
The first official graduation we know about was at Oxford and Cambridge. Near this time was when long gowns during graduation was established to unify everyone. The original hat has changed a lot over time. Caps were first found in the 15th century, and they resembled religious hats that were common in the 1300’s. After the Civil War, academic regalia was reserved for graduation ceremonies only. Up until 1950, gowns in the US were grey. In this decade, schools started wanting to represent their schools with colors. Our school in particular has rotated between black, white, and black and white gowns.
Aside from attire, there is the very controversial tradition of throwing graduation caps in the air after commencement. We got this idea to throw caps in the air from the Navy. In 1912 at the U.S Naval Academy, students were given hats at their graduation ceremony. At this point, they no longer had any use for their midshipmen hats, so they threw them. Year after year, people started to copy the idea until it became “dangerous” enough to be forbidden at many schools. It has caused injuries, so most schools do not allow throwing of the caps.
Other traditions continued to grow, including the song “Pomp and Circumstance,” which became the unofficial, but widely used song of marching to graduate. This song has no words, but carries a catchy rhythm that almost everyone can hum along to.
An (undated) historical photo of Boothbay Regional High School’s “Grand March.” Photo courtesy of the Boothbay Register.
There are also the traditions that have died along the way. Grand March is an example of this. Boothbay High School still carries on this tradition. As senior Cagney O’Brien (who started high school in Boothbay and now attends Lincoln Academy) says, “The boys wear a white jacket and black bottoms. The girls wear an all white dress. It’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. They march in the most elegant way. The boys walk in one direction and they girls walk in another. Then the graduates give their parents flowers. It’s wonderful.” This tradition, perhaps because of the complex rehearsing required, has disappeared from almost all high schools.
The events leading up to graduation get the graduates and their families prepared for the upcoming commencement. It may be a nerve-racking time for the soon-to-be graduates, but it is mostly a happy time of celebration. Baccalaureate happens in the few days leading up to graduation. The ceremony honors the graduating students often in a march or service. Its history comes from Medieval European traditions. Baccalaureate is not an event that is hosted at all schools, but many choose to incorporate it into their traditions. At Lincoln Academy, students get to come together one last time before graduation and march up Academy Hill from the Lincoln Theater. Other ceremonies include Senior Tea, Class Night, various award ceremonies, concerts, and performances.
One of the most practiced things for graduation just might be marching practice. This crucial time is when the final touches are being put on all of the events, as the graduation ceremony is prepared.
If you look up the definition of “commencement,” you will find something along the lines of “a beginning or start.” At first glance, doesn’t this seem backwards? Graduation is supposed to be the end. But, it’s not! Commencement is the end of your high school career, but it is only the beginning of your real life. Whatever may be next in everyone’s life, they will just be beginning once high school is over. Everything will seem to change. There will be a transition from the Lincoln Academy Journey to whatever each person’s next journey may be.
LA graduting seniors in 2016
After asking several students about their thoughts on graduation, the responses were similar! “I’m excited! Lincoln Academy has been quite the experience. It’s different than other high schools, and there’s certainly a lot of work that has to be put into studies, but I’ve gotten the opportunity to travel and do many other things,” said Hamel Margaritis, class of 2017.
It’s safe to say that Lincoln Academy graduates are lucky to have spent their time here. Freshman will enter the school every year, thinking that it will never end. But it truly flies by. You may nag and beg for graduation to come faster, but my best advice to all students thinking this is to just slow down. Don’t rush this time, don’t drown yourself in stress, take time to do the things you enjoy, and work on creating relationships with good people because these will be friendships you can always remember. Graduation is approaching, and the school year is winding down. Everyone will soon part ways, but that doesn’t mean that we should forget about this time and the people we’ve met.
Chasidy Day is about to graduate from Lincoln Academy with the Class of 2017. She wrote this article as a project in the Yearbook and Communications Class.