Column: Walk this way - or not

By HASKEL BURNS,

Ah, the culmination of another group of high school careers.

First off, congratulations to all the high school and college graduates in the area – it’s a long trip and a lot of work to get to where you’re at, and you deserve it.

Though I’ve got to say, both my graduation ceremonies – from Petal High School and Southern Miss – were pretty uneventful by choice.

I’m an introvert by nature and have never been the type of person that likes being part of a spectacle, so needless to say I wasn’t particularly looking forward to walking across the stage in front of thousands of people to get my diploma/degree in either case.

I was only 17 when I graduated from Petal High School in 1998, so I pretty much had no choice but to acquiesce to my parents’ wishes and take part in the pageantry at Reed Greed Coliseum that year.

I wish I could say something exciting or fun happened, but all I remember is getting my diploma, shaking a few hands and getting back to my seat.

I honestly don’t even remember whether my friends and I did something that night (if so, it must not have been too eventful) or if I just went back home.

My graduation from college played out a little different. I was 27 when I graduated from USM in 2008, so the choice was mine on how it went down. I chose not to walk, and after a few weeks (or months, I really don’t recall), I got my degree in the mail.

Looking back on it, I’m glad I walked after high school, if for no other reason than it was the only chance I’d ever have to do that with my friends and people I grew up with.

I don’t necessarily regret not walking after USM, simply because I wasn’t really friendly or familiar with anybody in my classes.

 Honestly, I was too busy working 40-plus hours a week – I’d go straight from my morning classes to work every day – to cultivate many relationships there.

None of this is to say I’m not proud as hell of my time spent at either institution or the excellent education I got at both of them.

I’m just not one for pomp and circumstance.

Nevertheless, I have been thinking a little bit about high school lately, because I recently learned that my 20th class reunion is scheduled for later this year. I honestly did not realize it had been that long.

I really didn’t participate in extracurricular school activities at Petal High – again, introvert – but I had a lot of fun with my friends throughout my high school years. I also got in a lot of trouble, most of the time because of my smart mouth or acting a fool in the woods during Forestry class.

I swear, I spent so much time in detention it was pretty much another class period for me. I should’ve gotten class credit for that.

But I guess what I remember most about high school – and unfortunately, what I was too foolish to realize back then – was that I had the best teachers you could ever ask for.

Without Martha Abadie, Tina Byrd, Si Thompson and Brad Amacker, I would have never been prepared for my college career.

At any rate, I don’t think I’ll go to the 20th reunion. I didn’t go to the tenth one, and given my position on social gatherings, it’s pretty unlikely I’ll get to this one.

But you never know. In my beat with The Petal News, I often visit my old schools, and I find myself getting nostalgic for the old, easier days. So who knows? I might just swing by and say hi to a few old friends.

 

Haskel Burns and his fiancé, Heather, live in Oak Grove. She didn’t walk at her graduation either.