The end of his high school experience has me recalling my own. By and large, my memories of high school aren't great. One need only take a look at my freshman photo to ascertain why, and my senior picture didn't reflect much progress, frankly. That said, one of the more memorable moments of my high school career came with our baccalaureate service. What service, you ask?
A baccalaureate service was/is a non-denominational service in which graduating seniors are honored. I had no idea what one was either until a few weeks before graduation. Sitting in class one hot May afternoon, I was wishing I was anywhere but there when the idyll was broken by the disembodied voice that made the occasional ominous appearance, inviting/demanding that a student make their way to the office stat. The voice requested that I head to the Principal's office immediately. One obeyed the Voice, so I made my way to the office. Making my way there, my thoughts were racing, wondering what I'd done to have face our principal, a rather formidable woman, and I couldn't come up with a thing (for the most part).
The answer came quickly, once I was seated across from her. She asked me if I knew what a baccalaureate service was and I said no. She quickly explained it and I said ok, still not knowing why I was being stared down by this woman. 'Mr. Lyons,' she said, 'your peers have nominated you to speak at the service. They feel you are a good example of living your religion.' I was shocked and immediately racked with guilt for every time I hadn't been that good example. I mumbled my acceptance and left, wondering what I would say at the service. More so, I was struck by what the Principal had said about my peers. My mother had been right. She'd warned me to always remember who I was and what I represented because people notice those things.
That lesson from thirty years ago still resonates with me. I've not been perfect, nor will I be, but I've tried to remember what I was taught as my high school career wound down. 'Remember who you are and what you represent.' I think all my children have been better at that than I was. For that, I am grateful.