A light drizzle was falling at about 5:30 p.m. June 12 as the graduating Class of 2014 — young men dressed in black suits, wearing either red or blue ties, and women in white or cream-colored dress gowns — gathered on the stairs outside the Jenkintown High School for a group photograph.
Word had gone out on the school district’s website that the evening’s commencement ceremony would be held indoors. Speaking by telephone, Superintendent Timothy Wade had explained there was an 80 percent chance of rain.
And so, the 54 seniors processed into the gymnasium, in twos or threes, arms locked, males taking seats on one side of a raised platform, females on the other.
Douglas Moore, the school board president, extended greetings on behalf of the board and administration, for what he called a celebration of one of life’s transitions. However, he quickly added that everybody was not celebrating exactly the same thing; while a few students may be lamenting their departure, Moore said, others may be celebrating new-found freedoms.
“We may not agree exactly on what we’re celebrating,” Moore said. “Let’s get this party started.”
“This is a great, great evening,” said Wade, calling it a “fitting ending” to a year that had been “a weather disaster” that included about a dozen snow days.
It was a “shame” to be indoors, he added. “We tried.”
Wade thanked families, parents, teachers, administrators, support staff, school board and community for making the graduation ceremony possible. He said he wished the graduates and everyone else “the very, very best.”
Principal Thomas Roller said he felt “very lucky” and “humble” to be speaking.
“I personally will miss each of you,” he told the seniors. Roller added that it had been a privilege and honor to have served as their principal. He then went through the list of class members, identifying a personal characteristic he knew about each one, identifying their artistic talent, athletic abilities, sense of humor and so forth.
“To the Class of 2014, allow me to thank you for who you are,” Roller said. Calling them “welcome members” of the Jenkintown community, he said he would miss them tremendously.
Following two choral performances, Roller presented a total of 21 “honors awards” to members of the senior class.
There was another musical interlude, and then the four class officers read off a list of personal gifts going to each senior, often with amusing explanations: a banana, a Rubik’s cube, a pillow, sunscreen, an alarm clock.
The diplomas were awarded, and the Alma Mater was sung, punctuated with student yells of “red” or “blue.”
At the conclusion, Wade said it was his honor to present the Class of 2014.
A reception was going to be held in the cafeteria, but first, a group of graduates went outside the school building to puff on cigars, apparently a time-honored tradition at the commencement ceremony.
The rain had stopped falling. It was time to move on.