Yesterday, my son was a member of the 2022 graduating class for Windsor Fire and Rescue.
It was a great event, well organised, and the class was marched in behind a bag piper. The Chief was there to personally congratulate each member of the class and present them with their badge. I had the honour to make a connection from a long, long time ago; a former principal was the religious presence, praying for all the members and asked us all to keep Ukraine in our prayers.
I was able to park and walk into the hall and it took maybe three minutes. Each family had a reserved table snacks and coffee for us were provided. Any children were given a gift bag from Windsor Fire to keep them occupied during the event.
We got to meet the members of the class and the valedictorian had an opportunity to give a shout out to each of them with a small anecdote.
My mind wandered at time, remembering my own graduations. Typically, they were huge events. From high school, we filled the gymnasium and friends and family were squeezed in like sardines. At the University of Waterloo, it was exponentially larger. In addition to those of us graduating in Mathematics, there was also a graduating class from the Humanities. From the University of Toronto, we in Education graduated with a class of Law in Convocation Hall. Families in Education were required to come in and sit at the top. The Law students graduated first and their families all got up and left after their part. It did make for some more breathing room and our parents got to “move down”
Valedictorian speeches were the typical generic happy messages about working hard and looking forward to making change in the world. In each case, we were named and got to walk across the stage, getting our paper degree in assembly-like fashion.
Today, we were invited to come to the front and take pictures when badges were given. And everyone had a camera! Tablets, phones, and one fellow had one of those big black things with adjustable lenses on it!
I couldn’t help but reflect on the difference in sizes, procedures, and parking (can you imagine the number of cars looking for a spot in downtown Toronto?!)
Obviously, I’m comparing apples and oranges here and yet there really was something special about having the Chief put a badge on your uniform. It’s more symbolic and lasting than getting hooded! We rented the gowns and had to put a deposit down on the hoods which was returned when we surrendered it. Of course, we took some pictures outside first. It just didn’t make sense to out and out buy the hood.
I like to think of myself as a people watcher. At my graduation, I was focused on the program (after locating my name) and the messages from the stage. Yesterday, I had the opportunity to see everything and it was so interesting seeing people’s reactions to the events and the badging of their son.
But the real difference happened after the event. My son starts work on Monday. When I left the graduation, it was the start of a job search!