Doris Negaard is advanced placement English teacher at William Chrisman High School. She has been a teacher for almost 35 years, and taught high school seniors for 25 years.
1 What can students do to prepare for graduation?
Be organized and diligent. Keeping a good sense of humor is helpful too. Once students have their deadlines outlined, it becomes easier to tick off the days attending to what is necessary. This is not the time to procrastinate.
2 What should they look forward to after graduation?
Immediately after graduation: Project Grad, a school-sponsored time for seniors and friends to play together well into the morning. In the long range: New beginnings. I remind seniors that it’s a great time to reflect on who they want to be and set some goals about what they personally desire and what they want to contribute to the world. This is a time of passage where a certain amount of adulthood is now conferred on them, with more freedoms and expectations than ever before.
3 What can seniors do to prepare for college?
For the undecided, explore options. If they’re not ready to commit to a four-year school, visit our community colleges. They’re an excellent investment. I remind students who are headed for college that a strong work ethic is primary for success. Prepare for that mind-set. A college structure is not like a high school structure. Students should enroll for classes as early as they can because they're more apt to have some control over course schedules then. If planning to live on campus, take care of those details as soon as you possible. Go with an open mind; students will make some life-time friendships.
4 After years of seeing students graduate, what are some of the thoughts and feelings you get when you see them walk across the platform?
Of course I’m very proud of them. Educators have the delight of watching students grow up so much over four years. And because of the time I spend with them, in and out of class, it’s a bittersweet time for me. I think it is for most teachers. We do miss the graduating classes and although we send them off with our best wishes and blessings, we know some future times will be tough. The day of graduation though is mainly a time of pride…and relief that they’re really on their way.
5 What’s the best piece of advice you give students before they graduate?
Celebrate this time. And celebrate their family, friends, and educators. As students, they’ve put in many hours to get to this point. It’s a step in their lives that acknowledges an accomplishment that many in the world don’t have the opportunity to achieve. Just remember that this is only the first step though; learning is life-long.