High school grads in small town America

In early June 1989 I walked down the aisle, stuck out my hand and received a rolled up piece of paper tied with a ribbon. When I returned to my seat, to my dismay the paper was blank!

It was supposed to be a high school diploma. Never fear, it would come in the mail in just a couple days!

The point being is I had over 900 pupils in my graduating class. The ceremony took all night and we hardly knew everyone in the large auditorium.

In a couple weeks my 16-year old son, Tyler is moving up to Alaska and will enter into Houston High School in August about twelve miles from our home. He will be a junior and will graduate in 2013. My daughter will come up later in the summer and enter the high school as a freshman and graduate four years later.

Houston High School held their graduation ceremony last night at at Curtis D. Menard Memorial Sports Center in Wasilly, Alaska. Sixty-four excited and jubilant seniors received their diploma and this change-of-life experience.

Think about it: 64 students in a graduating class.  As I can recall, in some of my high school classes we had 40 students or more.

Our varsity football team, made up mostly of seniors, had well over 100. Our school dances required tickets and hand-stamps and droves of chaperones to squelch throngs of 80s hipsters dancing to Huey Lewis and the News and sitting awkwardly across the gym during slow dances summoning up the courage to ask the cute girl/guy to dance.

My kids have grown up in the booming metropolis of the Denver suburbs in schools that were packed with youngsters. They are used to large classes, big assemblies and pep rallies.

When they move up here there will be a culture shock to say the least. I am still trying to teach them that they do things different in Alaska. Carharts are a fashion statement up here not skinny jeans and concert shirts. Heck, the last big show to roll thru Alaska was Daughtry!

At their schools in Denver the kids could leave the campus for lunch at Qdoba or grab a hot dog and a Big Gulp at the corner 7-11. Not in Houston. McDonalds is 15 miles away and the closest c-store is the Miller’s Market, too far to get to and back in a lunch period (if they are allowed to leave school grounds at all).

But did you know that Houston HIgh School is more the norm than the exception? 

64% of all towns in America have a population of less than 2500 people. I learned that on the History Channel from a guy that works for a cable company and name is Larry.

I am sure they will fit in and I am sure they will make friends and do well but what I am un-sure is how they will deal with such a small school. Sure it is far removed from the one room school houses from WAY back in the day but not quite.

64 students! In this day and age my kids can carry on a conversation with that many kids at once over text messages!

My, how things have changed…


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