Photos by Sue Moore and Brian Freiberger.
By Steven Fryling
So we find ourselves once again in “graduation” season; a time when young people are excited and anxious about what is to come and the older among us wistfully consider the scope of a person’s life and what these things mean, often while sitting under a canopy in a backyard somewhere, munching on ham sandwiches and graduation cake.
So what does a “graduation” mean? Nowadays, schools have graduations anywhere from preschool or kindergarten graduation to middle and high school graduation, to college graduation, as well as graduation from various programs or activities. I have heard retirement referred to as a graduation. Perhaps at these events, a gold watch is the substitute for a diploma. At a recent funeral for a relative, I was told she “graduated” to the next level as well.
Perhaps it is best not to think of the idea of graduation as a ceremony and more as a rite of passage, a milestone or reflection point in life. As an educator for 33 years, I have seen many of my colleagues retire, which happens at the same time as high school graduation. I have observed with them that these times are like the “bridges” in life; you are on the highway and you go over a bridge, but it is at the bridge you look out the car window and admire the view. While most of the days of a life are filled with seeing just what is ahead on the road in front, a bridge invites you to look from side to side and say, “what a great ride.”
Being an educator, I have heard more graduation speeches than I care to count. I even gave one once. I always like Charlie Glaes’ speeches, delivered at Vicksburg’s graduation. While typical remarks note what is ahead and behind the graduates, Charlie also makes us look from “side to side” as the students cross the bridge and helps us enjoy the ride. I have noted that he makes similar remarks at retirement ceremonies, which I find fitting.
Let’s face a fact; high school graduation and a diploma no longer mean what they used to mean. When I was a kid in the 70s, graduation was, for many, the last stop on the journey in formal education. Folks went on to work at Upjohn and Fisher Body and Continental Can (none of which exist anymore). Today, high school graduation is a place where many young people figure out that they are only part way to the goal of sustainable employment and the “American dream” lifestyle; it is simply a first step toward a degree or training in certificate, or the military, or a trade school or apprenticeship.
So what’s the takeaway here? In our culture where we have no ceremonial rite of adulthood (unless you are Jewish, Hispanic or Native American), we often thrust high school graduation into this role. To me, this time of year for many 17-19 year olds serves a mighty purpose. While it no longer declares students ready to enter most job fields, it does demand that we all step back, look side to side, and admire the only journey that we are ever going to be on.
By Sue Moore
The Paws Fur Learning classroom in Vicksburg High School established the Madison Steffens Extraordinary Service award – and gave it Madison Steffens. The faculty member who established the award was Dr. Noni Heikes who teaches veterinary science as part of a countywide program located in the Vicksburg building.
Madison has spent this year as an example of service, saving the lives of dozens of cats and serving the community by reducing feline overpopulation and placing cats in homes, Heikes said. “That’s why I felt the award should be established in her name and that she should be the first recipient.”
This Madison Steffens award will be presented to students exhibiting outstanding commitment and service to the feline foster project. Names of future winners will be engraved on the plaque. Madison was presented with her own award as well.
“Our classroom is home to a feline foster project called Paws Fur Learning. Cats that enter shelters with medical needs or too poorly socialized to be adopted are typically euthanized. Paws Fur Learning brings these cats into the classroom, provides medical care, socialization and spaying or neutering, and cares for them until they find their forever homes,” Heikes said.
She is the founder of the program that is in its second year and is already being considered for replication in other animal science classrooms. “Steffens has provided extraordinary service to this project. She has taken on a leadership role with the cats, helping to schedule spays and neuters, coordinate intakes and adoptions, arranging for supplies and laundry, and coming in daily on school evenings, weekends and breaks to care for these cats.”
Steffens is shown here with the plaque that will record awardees through the years, and resident cat Kingsford – who incidentally is seeking a summer foster, preferably beachside with plenty of views of birds, Heikes said.
By Sue Moore
“I’m running out of cars to bring to the Old Car Festival,” said Larry Gardon. He has featured his Studebaker – he has nine, his 1960 Pontiac convertible and his 1954 DIVCO milk truck at various Vicksburg Old Car Festivals.
The milk truck was purchased five years ago. Gardon did a complete restoration on what was known as a multi-stop vehicle, meaning it could go door to door. It was made in Warren, Michigan by the Detroit Industrial Vehicle Company, thus the acronym DIVCO. “There are probably 15,000 to 20,000 still in existence because it was so popular and unique. People who got their milk delivered at home have fond memories of this truck.”
For the last few years, Gardon and his wife have formed a team that buys and sells cars as he is retired and living in Quincy. “She buys them, I do the mechanical work and then she sells them. We split the profits.”