Friday, December 2, 2011

Elmer's Graduation

I went to my first graduation today. Cecilia’s son, Elmer, was graduating from 9th grade. He’s graduating from the boy’s school here in Berlín which is where I teach. Next year he’ll be moving on to high school (which is like 10th, 11th, and 12th grade). The celebration today started with a mass. No, the school isn’t private nor is it Catholic. But the tradition here in El Salvador, a predominantly Catholic country, is to have a mass before graduation.

The mass started around 8:15 at the Catholic Church here in Berlín. All the graduates sat toward the front with one family member, mostly mothers or grandmothers, who would be accompanying them throughout the graduation. It was a typical mass except the readings were done by teachers of the school and the homily was about graduation and its significance. When the mass ended all the graduates stood on the steps for a group picture.

Elmer and Cecilia

Waiting for the mass to start

Half of the ninth grade class

Afterwards the graduates and their companions filed outside. They lined up and there was a procession from the church to the school. Once we reached the school everyone crowded inside. The graduates and their companions had reserved seats. There were a few seats for everyone else but mostly people just stood. There were candy vendors walking around selling candy and the little snack area was open. There were several (freelance) photographers walking around. They were waiting to take pictures of the graduates in hopes of selling them to the graduates’ families.

There he is!

Getting ready to process

Mom and son

Walking to the school

The stage set up at school

One half of the graduating class

The other half sat on this side

Candy for sale


 The graduation itself was similar to those in the US. First the national anthem was played and everyone stood. The director of the school and a couple other teachers spoke about the graduates and meaning of graduation. Then it was time to call each graduate on stage to receive their diploma. The person with the graduate accompanied them on stage. This was the long and somewhat boring part. When Elmer’s name was called Kathy went up to take pictures of Cecilia and him. I stayed sitting down to save our seats.

After almost an hour of calling names the last graduate walked across the stage. Then the student who had the highest grades went up on stage to say a few words. But that didn’t last too long and soon the graduation was over. The graduates all went to the back of the school to get pictures. Cecilia went to pick up her other son’s grades and Kathy and I chatted briefly with the director of the school. Then we all walked home.

In their places

Walking up to the stage

Shaking hands

With his diploma

Elmer's diploma

What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us.  – Ralph Waldo Emerson

1 comment:

Matt said...

I hope Elmer and the other students were very proud. That is a great accomplishment.