Update: Our student was told during graduation practice he has to pay off $16 before receiving his diploma because he did not sell prom candy.
Poplar Bluff High School seniors will be picking up their diplomas Thursday night and my wife and I will be one of those proud parents in the crowd waiting to hear one name.
We know our senior is going to get a diploma, let’s just say there have been a lot of speed bumps along the way. We don’t take anything for granted these days.
Students were to pick up their graduation tickets last week but our senior didn’t do that since he no longer attends class. The deadline was a day away when his mother sent a Snapchat reminder and he said he would swing by and pick them up before heading to his favorite fishing hole.
As he pulled out of the driveway he heard the “thump, thump” of a flat tire.
“My tire popped,” he texted.
A minute later he called but I missed both and by the time I realized what was going on he was being taken to school by mom like it was freshman year.
He got the graduation tickets and then a lesson in tire changing.
My wife may not have been able to give him a ride, or be alive, had the school not gotten the boys swim team back this fall.
A week before the start of school they were in the kitchen, he was cooking bacon after a 5 a.m. swim practice and she was getting ready to leave for work. She suffered a seizure and hit her head on the hard tile floor. His lifeguard training from a previous job kicked in but she made him cancel an ambulance.
He called me and we went to the emergency room where she had another seizure and it was discovered she had bleeding in her brain. She was flown to Memphis and spent four days there in the hospital.
His graduation day came before the first day of school with his mom on the mend. She missed a lot of things at the start of his senior year, but she was there for his swim meets — except the one we arrived to as the last race ended because I didn’t leave the office on time.
He set school records, only lost once all season by a fraction of a second in his best event and would have earned all-conference honors based on his times (the Mules were not invited to compete). Not bad for a kid who was once so afraid of the water he wore a life jacket in the kiddie pool.
More importantly, he did his school work, made better grades than he had all of high school, cut down on his tardiness and missing curfew.
He was able to graduate early.
We got some nice graduation announcements printed and explained that if he got some addresses and sent these out, family and friends might send back a card or maybe money. It’s like an extra birthday, which was also coming up. We asked what he wanted when he turned 18 and we got the usual high-priced answers.
I joked at the time he might be better off saving his graduation and birthday money for tires and a tune-up for his car. He got a nice rod and reel for fishing and bought his first lottery ticket (he didn’t win).
As he was jacking up the car to remove the flat tire this week we noticed a large fishing hook stuck in what was left of the tread.
It’s a good thing changing a tire is not a requirement in earning a high school diploma because this pit stop was measured with a sun dial.
Even if he aced this final the homework was lacking. On the way to get a new tire I noticed his check engine light was on and that the car was overdue for an oil change by about 7,000 miles. He will be working this bill off the rest of the summer.
It’s a costly lesson to learn but even after school’s out forever, they keep coming until you learn from them. Thursday night is just for the parents and ticket holders.