This week the kids in our area head back to school. I am delighted to say that neither myself nor my son is a part of that throng. Instead, I am going to take a few minutes to talk about the last stage of my son’s education, secondary graduation.
Perhaps it was partly due to my son’s lack of interest in the proceedings, or perhaps it was that I didn’t know what was expected, being a foreigner and all, in any case, we didn’t get the invitation to the special after-ceremony dinner, so our whole experience was cut short, but not by much. It was a LONG, drawn-out affair.
The day started early for us as the animals needed attending before we went anywhere. Then there was the showers and the fixing up process. Since my son became a teenager, this stage of the morning routine is agonizing in length. Once we were all ready, we hopped into the truck and headed to the salon (hall). We arrived in plenty of time and stood around with the hoards of people milling around the entrances.
I handed the family invitation to the doorman and he said something about my husband needing to go around to the other door. We paid him no mind, having no IDEA what he was talking about. We found some seats and sat down.
Nothing in Mexico ever starts on time so we did some people watching. Each of the 10 (yes ten) graduating classes had a lona (banner) with a blown up version of their class picture. We were quite near 3F’s display and could clearly see my handsome son. I don’t know why they had such a fit that he wore a red tie instead of a brown tie. Some of the boys didn’t even have ties on. In any event, the shadowing of the photo made his red tie look brown. We did, however, get a brownish tie for today’s graduation ceremony. Geez! Ties are expensive!
After about 45 minutes, the show finally got on the road with the presentation of the invitados de honor (the important people that sit on the stage). Much to our surprise, the president of Moroleon was the guest of honor. Even more surprising, his daughter attends the school my son goes to, which is a PUBLIC school. Most of the well-to-do send their kids to private schools. So this really was something. There was some blah-blahing about recent renovations to the school and the funding for those renovations, thanks to the president. None of this concerned us since my son was graduating and wouldn’t be a beneficiary.
Suddenly, I realized that I shouldn’t be there sitting in the parent section, but standing with my son as “madrina” (godmother). Customarily, someone outside the family is asked to perform this function. I figured that since I took my son to school every morning, made sure he had a clean uniform and finished most of his homework, I was the most qualified to stand as madrina. Only, I had entered as a parent and now didn’t know where my son was.
I spent 15 frantic minutes crossing back and forth looking for his group, asking people that seemed in charge, only to be sent back to where I had just come from. Finally, I located my son, no mean feat in a sea of identically clad teenagers and took up my position. Being on the short side, meant I was unable to see much of anything.
Eventually, we all marched forward. My job as madrina was to escort my son to his seat, which I managed to do quite well thank you very much. Then I was supposed to sit in the specially set aside madrina/padrino section. Thinking I could just get by if I followed the padrino in front of me, that’s what I did. Only he ended up some other place and I had to march in FRONT of the stage to get to my seat. My son said I was so short that nobody noticed that faux pax as my head didn’t even clear the stage floor. I scampered along and managed to get the seat right in front of the speakers.
The next item on the program was the himno nacional (national anthem) and the passing of the flag from the graduating honor guard to the next level down. This is quite a big deal. There are formal words that need to be recited. The flag has to be presented in a certain way. And the departing group must leave in a dignified manner, well it would be dignified if they actually had sabers strapped on. All very military. Only no one took into account that the flag might get caught in the white drapey decorations, which is what happened. And personally, I thought the elbows out march looked a bit like a chicken walk. But again, I’m not Mexican so perhaps the solemnity of the situation escaped me.
After everyone involved in the flag exchange was gone, the first of the 10 (yes, ten) graduating classes was called up on stage. The teacher read off the attendance list. Each student was to take a step forward and call out “presente” when they heard their names. After which, the teacher called out a last group attendance call, and all students took a second step forward with one last “presente.” Of course, some groups were rather large, my son’s class had 39 graduating students, and this second step nearly was the end of a few of the teachers teetering on the stage edge.
After everyone in the group was accounted for, the jefe del grupo (prefect) was called to the head mucky-muck table to shake hands and receive the pack of class documents. My son is the jefe del grupo of 3F. Instead of leaving the stage, walking around to the back steps and going up them to the raised tier where the important people table sat, my son, with his long legs, just climbed up a tier, shook some hands, accepted the documents, and hopped down the same way. His short round teacher had to go the long way around.
Then there was the group photo shoot with the school director and the president of Moroleon. After that happy event, students filed offstage.
In between group presentations, there were several entertainment segments. Some of the teachers prepared a “surprise” dance routine that began as Thriller zombies and then morphed into a soulful rendition of Despacito with some getting jiggy with it moves to round it all out. I totally was not expecting zombies at the graduation ceremony. There was also a dramatic recitation or two by students and a song by a rather talented curly haired sophomore.
My son’s group was the last of the 10 (yes, ten) graduating classes. Just when we thought it was over, there was the awards ceremony. Highest promedio (grades), special participation in events throughout the year, and so on. Not only were the awards for the graduating students, but also for the other two grades. The president’s daughter received a certificate of some sort, so there was more picture taking which made it even LONGER.
Then the school principal took the stage. More blah-blah. And another artistic performance by a girl from each of the 10 (yes, ten) graduating classes. By that time, people were getting restless. The graduation misa (mass) was supposed to start at 12 pm and the madrinas and padrinos were filing out like sheep to make it to the church on time. But it’s not over until the fat lady says “clausura oficial” literally. The students hurried through the Himno a la escuela (school song) so that fat lady could make the pronouncement.
Not being Catholic and all, we opted out of the special mass and went for tacos instead. Much to our astonishment, the president of Moroleon also stopped at this same roadside taco stand and congratulated my son before sitting down at the next table with all his entourage (and daughter). They serve some pretty good tacos there!
So for all that rigamarole, the folder my son was given contained nothing more than a certificado de buena conducta (Good behavior certificate). His official diploma I had to download from the SEP site and print out myself the following week, which I did. He needed it to enroll in his next course of study–Online Prepa!