Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Eighth Grade Graduation Ceremonies

It's that time of year. Graduation.

I've received a few high school graduation announcements in the mail this week and I've cheered for those teens I've followed through the years. It's not been easy for any of them. They can testify to that. They've come through the fire and are ready to take on the world.

Graduation at Pilot Mountain School was almost as significant to the eighth graders then as it is to the seniors now. It was a rite of passage with a few adjustments. The students received a certificate of promotion instead of a diploma. There were no caps and gowns, but white dresses for the girls and white shirts and ties for the boys. Did I mention corsages for the girls? That, too, and  red boutonniers for the boys.

I have the inside info about one year's corsages, probably in the mid 1950's. After the graduation service that evening, a mother who had helped pin the corsages whispered an apology to one of the girls. She had pinned the corsage upside down and that fact concerned her during the whole ceremony, tugged at her sense of etiquette. She had a reason for the error, though. By the time she had arrived to help, several other mothers had already pinned a few corsages on the girls, upside down. In her true southern graciousness, rather than point out the error, she went along with the others and pinned the corsages to match.

Eighth grade class of 1961

Thanks to the Morganton News Herald for this photo from their "Looking Back..." feature.

The eighth graders in this picture were not from the year of the upside down flowers. Nor were they from the year one of the boys sneaked back to the school during the night before graduation and carved his initials with his girl friend's in the doors. A few years later, they were married. More than forty years later, they are still married.

These students are from the years when eighth grade graduation was all about completion and promise and innocence. World War II was over, Korea, too. Viet Nam loomed ahead, but not here, not that day. That day, all was well with the world. Look at their faces. You can tell.

So many graduation stories...

Catch of the Day,



  1. This sure brings back memories of my own 8th grade graduation. I looked very much like these girls!

  2. Loved that corsage story. How southern of that Momma! Carol Baldwin

  3. We didn't have eighth grade graduation. Instead we went to Raleigh for the eighth grade trip. I remember wearing a pillbox hat and gloves. Imagine!