To the Point for 6/2/2005

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OVER THE YEARS many people have commented at different times about this column. The subjects have varied, moving from world events to local situations, and as the reader you have been generous with your praise and honest with your criticism.

Of all of the columns that I have written, perhaps none has drawn as much attention as a “To The Point” I wrote just over two years ago about my oldest daughter, Abby, getting her learner’s permit to drive a car.

To this day I still have people walk up to me around town and remember that column and comment that they now have a child taking driver’s education, and that much of what I wrote about is very true.

Today is another column about her, because this Sunday afternoon she will join her fellow classmates and go through commencement exercises with the Switzerland County High School Class of 2005.

The day she went to kindergarten, I remember calling my father for no particular reason. I shared with him how it was so weird to send her off to school, because it seemed like just yesterday that we were bringing her home from the hospital.

“Don’t worry,” was my dad’s response. “When you wake up tomorrow, you’ll be watching her graduate from high school.”

I guess tomorrow is here.

My wife has been splicing together clips from videos that we have made over the year, and as we move through countless hours of tape, the memories captured on those movies seem like they were happening just yesterday.

Time is the one thing that we can’t stop, it continues to move forward.

But this is about more than Abby, although I am very proud of the woman that she has grown to become. This column is also about her fellow classmates and how special they are to me.

When these kids were in the fifth grade, we organized a “Titanic” elementary school graduation party for them. Both elementary schools came together that night to dance (although very few of them did), chat, eat some pizza, watch a magician, and generally get to know each other.

I think that night made their adjustment to middle school a little bit easier the next fall, and helped create the special bond that these graduates share.

As eighth graders, they became the first middle school class to travel to Michigan and Canada on a class trip. Today, that trip is a standard for our eighth graders, but the Class of 2005 were “trailblazers” for the classes yet to come.

Because this class is small in number, they have had the chance to become very close, beginning with kindergarten and following them through their senior year.

For Abby, kindergarten at Jeff Craig was a very familiar place, because her mother taught there, and she had been roaming the hallways since before she could remember.

That first day brought new friends: Jennifer Deaton, Holly Jackson, and a little girl with a huge smile named Adrienne Shaw. They are still friends to this day. Jaclyn Ranz entered the picture soon thereafter.

Josh Reagan and Adam Moussa and Kyle Self were names I heard a lot, and elementary school rolled along.

Middle school brought all new names, from Shelby Poling to Ashley Hite and Brittany Cole. Megan Lohide also back flipped into our lives, and Abby and Megan became the best of friends. In fact, as parents we often laughed that each contained half a brain, so when they got together they could function.

Of course, those two halves didn’t know how to make a call on a rotary dial telephone, but that’s another column.

Middle school also brought Jonah McClellan and Ryan Owings and Joey Turner and David Bailey. We have video of Abby’s first “boy-girl” birthday party, where the boys decided that they would line the girls up on the floor next to each other, side by side, and then the boys would go to the other end of the house, take a running start, and see how many of the girls they could leap.

No one ever said they were “book smart”, but they had a certain “car salesman” quality to them.

Growing up also brought some heartache. Friends Julie Lipperd and Daniel Helmers packed up and moved away, but even from a distance I believe that both still feel like they are a part of the Switzerland County Class of 2005.

But perhaps no one has impacted Abby’s life like a red head from Versailles who moved in one day. Abby couldn’t possibly see what she might have in common with a “Raider”, but soon thereafter she and Emily Hehe were fast friends.

They have had their ups and downs over the years, but they’ve always been there for each other — no matter what. This fall when Purdue University welcomes the Class of 2009, both will be there, this time as freshman roommates.

There are so many others. Tony Hart has a cow named after Abby’s mother; who had a calf that is named after Abby. Loren Lamson and Dustin Ricketts and Liz Hon and Willie Self and Lauren Williams have also become special at our home, and all of the others who will forever share a spot in my heart.

But this Sunday they will all walk into the high school gym as seniors and walk out as graduates. It’s been a wonderful ride through school for all of them.

It seems like only yesterday….