It is May, the month of graduations.
This brings back thoughts of my own graduation ceremonies, many years ago.
I graduated from MU Law School in 1985. Hard to believe it’s been 38 years.
I was 24 years old, one of the very youngest of fresh-faced grads in my law school class
I graduated from Trenton (Missouri) High School in the Class of 1978; then four years of college at Southwest Missouri State University (not even its name anymore), graduating in 1982; followed by three years of MU Law, graduating in 1985.
I was part of the ’78, ’82, ’85 crowd – four years of college immediately after high school, followed by three years of law school immediately after college. The youngest of the MU Law class of ‘85. There were a number of students older than me. I was one of the pups.
I’m always struck by the distinct similarities regarding my high school and law school experiences. In both high school at Trenton and law school at Mizzou there were some 122 graduates in my class. Both educational experiences took place in a single, cramped and busy building, Trenton High School and Tate Hall at MU Law, often referred to affectionately by students as “Tate High.” Fortunately, the lack of glamor of the physical facilities did nothing to diminish the great education.
Everybody pretty much knew everybody both places. There was a lot of camaraderie and esprit de corps.
We moved to the small town of Trenton from the Kansas City area my freshman year in high school. There was some initial culture shock when we moved in, and I felt a bit like a duck out of water much of the time. But in my high school years and since, I have developed a strong connection with my friends from high school. I even married a Trenton girl.
I would also say, despite some arrogant skepticism I have noted over the years for coming from a small high school in a small town, I would match the quality of my high school education at Trenton with anyone’s. Great and dedicated educators and people work in small towns too, America.
In law school, I developed an immediate and significant connection with my classmates, starting almost from the first day.
For one, we all had the same ambition of being lawyers. Another factor, in the first year, the law school class is divided into two sections. And that first year, you have every single class with the same set of students in your section. Talk about getting to know each other.
By the same token, there was another section of first-year students who have every class together, and we barely knew the other section until we started having classes together the second year.
Much is different these days.
Tate Hall has been replaced by the big, bright, shiny, fancy Hulston Hall as MU’s Law School. It doesn’t look like a high school like Tate Hall did, and is much bigger.
The classes at Trenton High School are about half the size of when I attended 45 years ago. The town’s population has shrunk only slightly, but it has aged significantly and families with school-age students are much fewer and farther between in my home town.
Another change: I’m sure not a kid anymore, and have not been for a long time. But again this May, the month of graduations, I am wistfully reminded of the days of my graduation experiences, and how that phase of life has been a significant factor in my life today.
Ken Garten is a Blue Springs attorney. Email him at email@example.com.