Yesterday evening at the Georgia Dome, I had the privilege of seeing the lone senior in this year’s Coaching for Success program walk across the stage and claim his high school diploma. LaMontae graduated with honors, and will be attending Georgia State this fall.
I’ve been to a lot of graduation ceremonies over the years. They all seem to have in common that they’re not really occasions for speakers to make life-changing or controversial speeches. Survey the attendees afterward about the content of the valedictorian’s speech and you’d generally get responses ranging from “It was nice” to “Valedic-who?” The next time I see a proud parent or guardian of a soon-to-be grad pull out a pen and paper to take notes about the key points of a commencement address will be the first.
Graduation is, plain and simple, a night for a family to celebrate an important accomplishment by one of its members. The roll call portion of the program is my favorite part—a unique blend of gravitas and gaiety. Whether the assembled cheering section for each grad chooses to express their support with full-throated whoops and hollers or reserved golf claps, there’s something I will always enjoy about the whole experience of being in a crowd like that.
I sat beside Gordon last night. When LaMontae’s name was called, he vocalized an affirmation. I’m quite certain the sound didn’t carry from midway up section 130 behind the end zone to LaMontae’s ears on the 40-yard line, and I joked with Gordon that I had expected him to break out twin air horns and make a big scene. But neither he nor LaMontae’s mom needed air horns to demonstrate their support last night. They were there—just as they’ve been, just as they’ll continue to be.
I’ve really enjoyed getting to know LaMontae through his involvement with Coaching for Success. I’ve enjoyed watching as Gordon has stimulated LaMontae’s interest in math and helped him navigate the process of applying for schools and scholarships. I’ve enjoyed hearing about the pair’s exploits together outside the weekly group tutoring sessions (see the February 15 post in this blog for one of the more memorable ones). And I’m confident this young man has a bright future ahead of him.
We caught up with LaMontae after the ceremony and congratulated him on his achievement. He seemed ready to get out of cap and gown and move on to a small family celebration at his favorite restaurant, P.F. Chang. I said good-bye and watched as LaMontae and his party of supporters—his girlfriend, his brother, his mom, and Gordon—walked off together into the night.