Mixsonian  Larry


Graduation Day

On Friday June 5th an awards presentation was held at the GHS auditorium which I went to with Mom and Dad.  I received a Certificate of Award for Scholarship, signed by Mr. Hudson the principle. I also received a certificate of award for perfect attendance, an amazing feat considering all that had happened over the school year.  I supposed it helped that I had no friends to skip school with.

Graduation day came and there were 868 graduating seniors which included 142 transfers from Lincoln and 24 from Mebane.  A case was fought all the way to the Supreme Court to win the right for the Lincoln and Mebane students to receive Gainesville High diplomas.  Giving the option, of the 142 transfers from Lincoln, 133 choose to received Lincoln diplomas instead of Gainesville High diplomas. All the Mebane transfers chose to receive Mebane diplomas.

The ceremony was held at the University of Florida gymnasium as the GHS gymnasium was not large enough. Say with parents and family there were an average of 3.5 people per graduate attending, there would be over 3,000 people in attendance.  When I was young and didn’t understand the mathematics, I aways wondered what a half child looked like when the news said something like “2.5 children per household”.  For me there were five in attendance, Mom, Dad, Brenda, David and Beth. 

The ceremony began with music “Pomp and Circumstance” playing as the seniors marched in, an armlength from the person in front of you, we were told so that you don’t step on their robe. With 868 seniors it must have seemed endless to the families in the stands, but we must have looked impressive, a thousand students seated filling the entire basketball court. Chairs were arranged on the ball court for the graduates to sit, rows, and rows of seats, taking almost the entire court.  The court was divided in half with an aisle down the middle, a dozen seats to either side.  Having to sit in alphabetical order, we were not able to sit with our friends. On my left were two girls I didn’t know, on my right was my cousin Mike Mixson, then others I didn’t know.  I said hello to Mike but didn’t have much else to say to him, I never saw him at school.  The last time I probably saw him was when we went over to his dad’s, my dad’s brother, Uncle Arnold, house, which we seldom did.   

With us all seated the entire basketball court looked like a sea of ghosts with us all in our white gowns and hats.  The GHS Chorus sang, the GHS band played and then came the commencement address “The Search for Personal Significance” given by some professor from the University that no one had heard of.  His speech did not impress me.

Then came our moment, the presentation of diplomas. The front row of students stood up and begin filing towards the stage, walking up a couple of stairs then to the center of the stage where their name was called, you shook the hand of the Mr. Hudson the principle then stepping to a table next to him they gave you your diploma before walking off the stage and back to your seat.  Immediately after the last person of the first row walked past the end of the row, the next row would stand up and follow in order.  Row, after row, I sat there and watched.  There was always the dreaded moment when some mishap would happen to a student, the sleeve of their gown catch on the stair rail, stumble, trip and fall, or some girl fainting.  Fortunately, having a name beginning with and “M” meant that I was in the middle of the rows, giving me plenty of time to watch, observe, calm and prepare myself.  My row’s  time came, we stood up, and walked to the stage. My turn came, I walk up the steps, to the middle of the stage, my name is announced, I shook Mr. Hudson’s hand, received diploma, returned to my seat, sat down, it was over, I made with no mishap and embarrassment, well except for a few of my family in the stands cheering when I shook hands with the principle.  After an hour the final name was called, Mary Lynn Zinkel.  After a paster gave a benediction, the students along with everyone in the stands sang Auld Lang Syne which was quite impressive with so many families there.  As the music of Auld Land Syne continued playing, the seniors filed out, again one row at a time, which went much faster without names being announced. 

But we actually were not done yet, the “diploma” they handed us on the stage was actually just the cover for the diploma, we had to travel back to school after the ceremony where we would get our actual diploma, but only after returning the gown in its original box.  Since I had driven my own car, I drove to GHS alone to get my diploma while Mom, Dad with Brenda, David and Beth went home. There was a reception for the seniors and their parents in the school cafeteria after picking up your diploma, but I didn’t stay for it. 

I finished 12th grade making an A in Algebra III, a B in Physics II, and C’s in Speech, Biology and English.   With school over it was the beginning of a new chapter in my life.

This ends
Part II - Formative Years of my story. 

Part III - On My Own

Updated: 11-11-2022