When my daughter Tiffany began her freshman year in high school I would have bet money that she would never make it to graduation. It’s not that Tiffany is not a good student; it is just that at the time she didn’t really seem all that interested in being a high school graduate. Homework was the farthest thing from her mind and grades were not something she necessarily cared about. It was one of those things that as a parent make you lay awake at night worrying about. Thankfully though Tiffany’s attitude changed and she matured both physically and educationally. She outgrew the pain of taking Spanish and German. She survived the math classes that seemed destined to trip her up. She even miraculously passed the AIMS test signifying that she had retained what she was being taught. Then to top things off she actually took the SAT and her scores coupled with her grades she was accepted into college all before the end of her senior year. It’s the kind of thing that makes you believe that there is a power beyond the comprehension of man.
So after four grueling years of high school and countless nights spent helping her with projects, papers, and other educational endeavors it was now time for her to graduate. Tiffany has been finished with classes since last week giving her a week away from school. Well not completely away from school. She has had practices all week for the graduation ceremony. I find it comical that after twelve years of school that seniors are required to attend 4 days of practicing how to walk. I would have thought walking would have been a prerequisite to get into high school not to get out of school.
Tiffany’s high school has approximately 750 graduating seniors. A graduating class of that size makes it impossible to stage anywhere but outside. Fortunately we live in Arizona which means we have 235 sun-filled days each year. Graduation exercises are held in the outdoor football stadium allowing family and friends to gather to celebrate the graduate’s accomplishments. This morning as Tiffany left we noticed that instead of the normal blue sky we were instead greeted with a gray and cloudy overcast. According to the local weather there was a slight chance of rain. None of us expected the rain to actually come but we all wondered whether the school had an alternative in case of inclement weather. Tiffany was to ask that question during her practice. She returned home with a sheet of paper outlining emergency plans in case the weather did turn out to be less than cooperative.
The plans explained that in case of rain the graduation would move to the auditorium and would be split into 3 different sessions. Depending on where the student’s assigned seat was for graduation would determine which session they would be graduating within. For Tiffany this meant that her graduation session would be the last one held and would start at 9:00 PM. Due to the limited number of seats in the auditorium it would be necessary to limit the number of people who could attend graduation. Tiffany was provided 3 tickets to graduation. This could be a problem since there are 5 in our family that would need tickets plus 3 additional tickets for people who have flown in for the graduation. I didn’t worry too much about it since it rarely rains in Arizona and in the history of the school they have never had to change graduation due to the weather. This should have been my first clue that something bad would happen.
Around 2:00 PM it began to sprinkle raindrops. Not enough to cause a problem but it would mean that we might get a little wet sitting in the bleachers of the football stadium. By 3:00 PM the rain was no longer sprinkling it was coming down at a fairly good pace and it was beginning to look as though the alternative plans would be executed. We immediately began calling around to see if any of Tiffany’s friends had extra tickets they would not be using. We found that everyone was in the same situation we were and they needed additional tickets too.
I sent Mallorie out to look for tickets. She and Tiffany went to several stores and finally found tickets that looked very similar to the ones assigned by the school. We spent the next little while developing a plan to use the extra tickets to try and get into the graduation ceremonies. I can’t believe I am actually developing a plan to crash a graduation. My parents could barely get me to attend my own and yet now I was trying to find a way to sneak others into this year’s ceremonies. We made our way over to the school leaving a little early just to make sure we had enough time. When we arrived at the school the rain was coming down in sheets pouring down upon the waiting crowd. To further make things miserable the other 2 sessions had run late making the final session very late. It was going to be a nightmare as we were standing in the rain getting drenched. I was going through in my mind what I would do if our plan did not work and we were caught trying to pass fake graduation tickets. I was nervous for no reason as the school officials came out to give us an update of how much longer we would be required to stand in the rain. They explained that they would not be asking for tickets and to please try and get into any seat we could find so they could start graduation as quickly as possible. When the doors opened everyone rushed in to try and get a seat and get out of the rain.
When everyone was seated I looked around and there were several rows of empty seats. Either people got tired of sitting in the rain or the final session had fewer students than the others. Either way everything worked out and we were all able to watch as Tiffany received her diploma. It was a great graduation. They rushed the students through and we were able to get out of the school by 11:00 PM. When we came out from the auditorium we were once again greeted by sheets of rain. I guess we should be grateful we weren’t sitting in the football stadium, which would have been bad. And as a bonus I have a whole roll of red tickets so I can start my own raffle if I want.