Wednesday, January 14, 2015

1969 and Winning

No more UFOs were seen, fortunately or unfortunately.  They were a diversion, and God knew, I surely needed one that senior year.

Fake High School Diploma, Midwest Design HS MidWest D
Not-a-real-diploma
The year 1969 brought graduation from high school.  Thank you, God. 

The senior year had been one of hard work, very hard work.  My whole college life depended on the sacred "win" of a scholarship.  Long story there, but anxiety level was such that I developed an ulcer and lost twenty pounds.

My GPA before senior year had been a miserable 3.5; it could not, would not “win” me much.  The word “win” was confusing then and is now.  One could not “win” anything as precious as a scholarship.  One could claw up the mountain of hope and perhaps make it to the top, holding that gold medal scholarship high.

End of school and graduation--- a memory I will never forget.  I was one of four valedictorians.  Our high school had a policy that if the GPAs were so close by the middle of May, there would be three or four valedictorians.  This “win” required me to speak at graduation. 

A scholarship was soundly mine.  A selected college accepted my application. I had a speech written and then re-written in my head.  The other two and I practiced our speeches in an empty gym, where our words sounded hollow. The fourth declined speaking at the commencement, so shy.

I “won” the position of the final speaker, the one who would introduce the specially invited speaker.  Even though I knew each word, each nuance, something changed as I looked out at the other graduates, knowing each one, suspecting their dreams and hopes. 

Some boys, too many boys would be heading to Vietnam.  A few pregnant girls would be getting married in a few days, since the district’s policy forbid married students from attending school.  College, farming, marriage, vocational schools, and just moving somewhere were the rest of the tasseled hats.



What did I say?  Tell you in two days.


This post is dedicated to Joanne Noragon who asked an important question after my three UFO posts: I'll enjoy seeing how college changed your outlook and furthered your education. What was the big letdown?

23 comments:

  1. Wow, an ulcer? That must have been some anxiety. But you made it, awesome indeed

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    1. Then, and to some degree now, stress and anxiety are my enemies.

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  2. I don't think parents fully realize the stress school kids are under to achieve.

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    1. My parents certainly weren't. My mother told me a few years ago that she thought I just wanted to lose weight back then.

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  3. You really stressed out to win, didn't you? Now I want to know what you said in your speech.

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  4. This sounds like way too much stress for a young person to have to go through.

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    1. It was then, and it surely must be the same now.

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  5. You pushed through the stress and did it. I have a feeling from what you wrote, that you did more than that.

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    1. I learned that I can do just about anything I have to do.

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  6. Sigh. All too familiar. And stress and anxiety still inhabit a cavern in my head. Emerging far too often.
    Looking forward to your speech. Mourning for those who went to Vietnam, and those who became parents too soon.

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    1. Same here. So much pressure to achieve so much so soon.

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  7. Thank you, Susan. I am in grandmotherly college throes now, probably more agitated than Emily who already has the grades.I am anxious to hear what you had to say; I cannot imagine.

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    1. Thank you for providing me the impetus to tell more.

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  8. Two days? I have to wait two days?
    Two. Whole days. (*~*)

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    1. So much I'd like to say, but it is simply not feasible. Thanks, River!

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  9. Wow, valedictorian. That's huge.

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    1. Granted it was from a class of 120, but still it was a great honor.

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  10. I'm impressed that you were still a valedictorian despite all the pain from your ulcer. Looking forward to hearing about your speech, and college days!

    Julie

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  11. Rural graduate, 1968, California, here. I understand the pressures, the fears. The future was filled with immediate dangers and involuntary service that easily ended in death --and people now wonder why we smoked too much. But by and by, things smoothed a bit, found jobs we didn't mind, went to college or worked our ways up. I think we did ok, Susan. I still meet people from that time and we hug, congratulate each other's survival and refrain from talking about what we did to survive. It's life, a very strong force in our generation. I remember many speeches were made, but I want to read yours --from when it was all underway. Please.

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  12. You and I graduated the same year. I wasn't quite as ambitious as you were though I didn't do too badly, I was #21 in a class of a few hundred, just missing being pictured in the annual with the top 20. I was pretty lackadaisical in my school career and didn't worry about getting any scholarship. Instead I worked to pay for my own schooling.

    That's the story of my life. Good for you for making it at the top.

    Lee
    Tossing It Out

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Go ahead...it won' t hurt...I'd love to hear what you think!