Yesterday was S's high school graduation. I must confess that I am still waiting for the "bittersweet" part that everyone else seems to be talking about, because I'm finding the whole thing to be purely awesome.
Okay, that is an untruth, as you will see in a moment when you read a few of the letters below. But I mean that in the overall-emotional-tenor-of-the-event way, and not in the blow-by-blow of the graduation ceremony way.
I'm not writing a letter to S here, since hey - I've already told her in person how proud of and happy for her I am. However, I feel a need to say a few things to other people. The ceremony was held in a ginormous basketball stadium, and seating was first-come, first-served. (And yes, you had to have tickets to get into the venue - but they were free to family members.)
Dear People Sitting in Section 102 with me and my family:
I am really proud of us for being the section to start the standing ovation in honor of the kids who are going into military service. Especially in today's climate, with so many troops deployed on active duty, people willing to volunteer to defend and represent our country deserve our appreciation. And I'm not just saying that because my brother was career Air Force.
Dear School Superintendent:
We all get it. You're retiring next month. But dude, you were only in our district for, like, 5 years. So why on earth you thought you should speak - at length - about YOURSELF and YOUR CAREER during a high school graduation ceremony is beyond me. Save it for your retirement and the people who, you know, CARE.
While I've got your attention, you ought to know that stringing together a bunch of uplifting adages and phrases (e.g., "reach for the stars", "a thousand points of light", "never, ever give in") does not mean that what you end up with will make any real sense, no matter how good those catchphrases sound. I'm just saying that those of us who bothered to pay attention noticed your lack of actual content.
Signed: A disgruntled parent
P.S. I've got another catchphrase for you. It's "don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out."
Dear Other Dude Who Spoke for No Apparent Reason:
We all cheered loudly when you accepted the idea that the seniors should graduate. I take it you noticed the collective "Oh no!" and muttering that began as soon as you launched into your gratuitous speech about how you graduated from a DIFFERENT high school and then shared that ridiculously long story about how you had friends who sang in a musical there, and guess what, some of them got together recently and sang one of those songs again and wow, can you believe it's been 27 years, and how did we get so old.
Not only did you get old, you got tone-deaf, because you should never have given that speech. It was tedious, and gratuitous, and off-topic, and completely irrelevant to kids who are in or just now out of high school. It was also boring and annoying. And guess what? It was all those things to everyone else, too.
Signed: A disgruntled parent
Your speech rocked. It was well-paced and well-measured and far more cogent and inspirational than anything those two administrators had to say. Your list of life lessons learned in high school and how they apply in the real world was terrific.
Signed: An impressed parent
P.S. If you do ever run for Senate in NJ, you have my vote.
Dear Girl Who Introduced the Superintendent:
Thank you very much for quoting "the noted philosopher, Albus Dumbledore". The Harry Potter reference made me happy, as did your choice of quote: "It is our choices  that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities."
Signed: A fellow Harry fan
Dear Comic Relief:
You were loud when you started, and I expected you to be obnoxious, yet you totally made it work for you and were, in fact, hilarious. I am positive that your classmates loved your speech and will remember it long after the serious words are forgotten.
Dear Girl Who Spoke Last
When you say that you will be running for President of the United States in the 2040 election, I believe you. I will look for you, and if you are half as articulate by then as you were yesterday, it's likely I will vote for you. What really stuck with me was this phrase from somewhere near your closing, which I copied down at the time and have since copied into my commonplace book, with your name as attribution:
"It's great if you find success, but make your life's goal significance."
Signed: A very impressed parent
And there you have it, in a nutshell.