Mariabruna Jennings, 18, is a recent graduate of Urbana High School and has matriculated at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. A member of Urbana High School’s largest graduating class to date (469 strong), Mariabruna was present at the graduation ceremony held June 7 at Mount St. Mary’s University. The following hour-by-hour documentation, snippets of which are taken from diary entries and commentary, recounts her Graduation Day experience.
June 7, 2012
7 a.m. — An alarm clock rouses Mariabruna Jennings (known fondly as “Mb” to friends and family) from a sound sleep. Her father’s voice is the first one she hears that morning. “Today is the first day of the rest of your life,” he says, beaming. Despite the excitement the day will doubtless bring, it’s all Mb can do to stifle a groan thinking about the soon-to-be-swamped Mount St. Mary’s University parking lot.
8 a.m. — A shower provides ample time for reflection on years past. Mb goes downstairs for breakfast. She’s greeted by the sight of a loaded breakfast table. Her father, as is his custom, has prepared a morning meal for both Mb and her brother. She could understand his pride — “my father, though an incredibly successful man and SES [senior executive serviceman], himself, didn’t graduate from high school.”
9 a.m. — Some pre-show nerves begin to set in. A few premonitions of hand-shakings with Principal Campagnoli flash by. “Put quite bluntly: My hair is in the most deplorable of conditions,” Mb notes. A quick coif is in order.
10 a.m. — On her way to pick up a good friend and member of the class of 2011, Mb grapples with the fact of the matter. The “denouement” of four years of high school is approaching, but she hardly feels ready. Her IB teachers, especially, will be missed.
11 a.m. — En route to the Mount, Mb turns her attention to all things wardrobe. Having put on the black dress chosen for the occasion, she fiddles with the cap in her lap. She makes a mental picture of the assembled ensemble — a silver gown, pressed, in the trunk, and a variety of chords and stoles. It occurs to Mb that she has a dilemma on her hands: The insignias for the Sociedad Honoraria Hispanica (of which she was president) and the IB Programme are on the same side of their respective stoles. What to do? “I figure, ‘Why not raise the SHH one above the IB stole, layering them one on top of the other?’” A solution! The moment of crisis is past.
Noon — The clock chips away at the time — at the Mount, one hour left until graduation commences. Looking about her, Mb is genuinely proud of her longtime classmates and fellow graduates. Everyone has come a long, long way.
1 p.m. — The rhythmic thrum of the high school band’s music carries to the outside of the stadium where the graduating class stands at the ready. The order to march is given. “A somber hush falls over the Class of 2012; our moment is now.”
The last entry in Mb’s notes, taken at 2:30 p.m., is short and sweet: “The ceremony is now completed. I am graduated. My heart is light.”