My first job out of college was covering the news over in Monroe. One of my initial assignments was to write a feature story on Lanny Johnson, who was retiring following 20 years as the superintendent of schools for Ouachita Parish.
I went to the school board office in downtown Monroe and sat across from him for a good two hours. He had an old, giant mahogany desk. It was littered with files, papers and other correspondence that goes along with running a school system. On his walls were awards, recognitions and photos. He made mention of several, but he placed special emphasis on one in particular. The image was a graduating class, one of the the first graduating classes of his tenure. I can't remember the school as Ouachita Parish is home to many institutes of learning, but I remember his comment.
"Good things happened," he told me, reflecting on all those years, all those faces, all those accomplishments.
I liked that comment. We ended up using it as the headline for the article, and I still have the tearsheet with the story somewhere amongst the others I've written over the years.
Good things happened. The negative seems to hold our attention. The same is true for goings on in our school system. While we always try to point out the good things that happen across the parish in our classrooms, the negative is what most folks seem to remember. They fail to remember the good things.
But there are some of us who recognize and remember the good. And I'd say there are a lot more who are thinking about all of the good things happening in our school at this time of year.
Just like Lanny reflected over all the years, the parents in Webster Parish along with our teachers, principals and other administrators are looking back on the years for this group of seniors.
I read a poem once by a man named Joseph Renaldi. In the prose, he wrote of graduation day being the climax of a dream.
"A parental dream that began when a child is born,
And their hope come true it would seem,
A triumph held after periods of forlorn,
A feeling of pride and euphoria years away
For a daughter or son - Graduation Day.
It is a peak of success for the graduate,
Not only for the graduate but parents too.
A joyful event after many years they had to wait,
Realizing the glorious thrill of a dream come true,
A genuine smile accompanied by a deep sigh,
Often a handkerchief in hand as the class goes by.
Graduation is a deserving, hard earned goal
With mortarboard and gown as foretold,
A gratifying service of the mind and soul
In a simple and beautiful sheepskin told
That the graduate fulfilled the educational rule.
At last, for the mother and father, a dream come true.
Those are beautiful words, beautiful sentiments. They show how so many people contribute to a high school education. The parents may feel the most pride and joy. More so than even the graduate.
And while the words are beautiful, I think I prefer Lanny's.
"Good things happened."
Yes they did.
Thirteen years. Don't they go by in a blink?
Josh Beavers is the publisher of the Minden Press-Herald.