As a parent, this is the last first-day-of-school I will see. My son is a senior at Grand High, and Wednesday morning he drove himself to campus and found his classrooms. The end of this long road, which began for me 17 years ago when my daughter started preschool, is just about finished. And it makes me wonder at the passage of time and how fast it goes by from the rearview mirror.
My daughter is entering her senior year at the University of Utah. Her enrollment there three years ago seemed like she was going to a secondary high school, because in my extended family she is a member of the third generation to graduate from GCHS and go on to attend the U. My parents and many aunts went to the U., as did I, and a brother. When we took Taylor to freshman orientation three years ago, visiting the U. campus was like saying hello to an old friend I hadn’t visited for 25 years.
Adam, as a senior in high school now, has completed so many of his graduation credits that he barely has reason to attend Grand High for much of this school year. He’s thinking about graduating early so he can work this spring when the tourists come back. He can make some money, and perhaps put his time to better use than taking fluff high school credits that he doesn’t need and may not enjoy. And then next summer, he’s planning to join the Navy.
There aren’t back-to-school mornings when you enter the military. This is a departure from our family’s traditional “next step” in the world of adulthood. But I’m proud of his decision. I think it’s ideal. He can work toward his priorities of physical fitness, service to country, skill building and occupational training, perhaps to become a diver. And along the way, he hopes to take college classes on Uncle Sam’s dime.
Being a member of the military isn’t new to our family, just to this generation. Adam’s grandfathers served in the Army, and his father and step-dad were in the Air Force. Military service, each one of them would praise, was one of the best choices they made in their lives.
Then there’s Taylor, who is completing double-major undergraduate studies. She is wondering about her next step. Will it be the work force? Graduate school? A service program? It seems these days that a bachelor’s degree alone doesn’t help in securing many jobs. Depending on her career path, graduate school may be mandatory. That’s fine with me. My parents and brothers attended college long enough to get bachelor’s degrees but did not go to grad schools. My parents were awarded honorary doctorates, getting their advanced degrees through the school of hard knocks, but only my mom ever took master’s classes.
The idea of going back to school even tickles the back of my brain. What good would it do to get a master’s degree, I wonder, knowing full well that my Bachelor of Science degree has not been a prerequisite for running a horseback riding operation. But the college experience, ah, the college experience. That was good training. Maybe I could use some more.
So while I’ve taken the last first-day-of-school picture, and I’ve signed the last permission slips, I know that there is more learning to do, but perhaps not in a classroom.
We stand at the threshold of change. The morning air hints of an end to one season and the beginning of another.