Hundreds of car keys jingling on their rings filled the auditorium with the noise of impatient teenagers. Graduation rehearsal had gone long, longer than we thought it should anyway, and the North Salem High School class of 1987 had had enough.

In a few minutes I’ll walk down to our practice for tomorrow’s commencement ceremony and be on the other end of those rattling keys. Truth be told, the students at La Costa Canyon aren’t key jinglers.  Sure many are ready to move on, at 17 that’s a healthy state of mind, but more than most are kinder than the world at large would expect. These are the kids who say “thank you” to administrators as they leave dances, who reach out to each other to offer support, and who are much more likely to start taking selfies during lulls in graduation rehearsal than try to make some kind of subversive key related statement. These are students who provide hope.

Then again, graduation rehearsal looks different than it did a lifetime ago when I was in the audience. Committed to brevity and frighteningly well organized, the commencement ceremony moves almost five hundred students from the baseball field’s outfield grass to the stadium, provides several students speeches, student bands, and diplomas all in about an hour. This morning’s practice will simply ensure that students know how to make the trek into the stadium and up to the stage without incident. It’ll go well.

Last year’s only hitch, and perhaps my favorite part of the entire rehearsal, was a phone call from a neighbor asking us to turn the music down. At graduation practice we don’t actually play music; Mr. Van Over sings “Pomp and Circumstance” over the PA system. I’m hoping he sings again this morning!

And as Mr. Van Over belts out his song, I get to see a sliver of campus life that too few have the privilege to enjoy. Everyone packs into the stands to cheer graduates at commencement, but rehearsal is different. It’s at rehearsal that LCC grads, relaxed and unencumbered by mortarboards that fall off fancy hairdos or dress shoes that would rather be flip flops, sit together for a final time in the familiar comfort of each other’s company. No one has to perform. No one has to speak. No one has to do anything except enjoy each other’s company …and practice standing and sitting in unison, which (if we’re honest) shouldn’t be all that tough for a group who have done this well in school.

So provided no student reads this blog in the few minutes it’s up before we all head to the stadium this morning and gets a wild idea about jingling keys, I look forward to another kind of magical morning, my last with the class of 2014. I anticipate smiles and the hallmark kindness I’ve grown to expect from La Costa Canyon High students. I’m confident in the preparation that has been done, and I’m looking forward to a song. And when we finish graduation practice, I know I’ll have complete confidence that all will be well tomorrow.


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