Thursday, June 25, 2015

A Tornado of a Graduating Ceremony

On Tuesday night, I accompanied my daughter, son-in-law, and my grandson to his high school graduation ceremony at the Washington Township High School. There were close to 600 graduates, so this will give you an idea of the size of the school. It’s freaking large. There were so many families there to celebrate the graduation that the attendees were split up into two auditoriums: the main one and one that was at the other end of the building.
Did I mention how big the Washington Township High School is?
You need GPS just to get from one end of the building to the other which is a quite an adventure for directionally challenged people like me. Thankfully, the staff and students were very helpful. Note of interest, on the long walk to the other auditorium, I noticed vending machines and bathrooms. I made a mental note of their location because I’m always in ‘Zombie Squad’ mode in case of emergencies and at my age; bathrooms are top of the list.


I brought my umbrella, silly me, thinking that the rain would just be a summer downpour.  Although my daughter and her husband were already seated in the main auditorium, I stood in line waiting to enter the smaller auditorium. Suddenly, the lights started blinking on and off, followed by flashes of lightning and booming thunder.

The rain and wind hit the school full force damaging one of their large canopies. Water was beginning to seep in through the metal doors close to where we were waiting to enter the auditorium. The wind continued to howl outside, plus none of our cells phones were working. I had no way to contact my daughter because texting only occasional worked. The maintenance crew did a great job keeping people calm and taking care of the water that had seeped in. Once we were allowed to enter the smaller auditorium, things calmed down and we were able to enjoy a beautiful ceremony. 

I was surprised to learn that the high school was celebrating their big 50. A speech was given by one of the members of the graduating class of 1966. I think that was so cool to compare what the school was like when it opened its doors.

Before the ceremony was over, I decided to walk towards the larger auditorium, so I could locate my family before the mad dash of mass photo opportunities that I was sure would begin as soon as the graduates exited the main auditorium.


Did I mention how big the Washington Township High School is?

I was lost in an endless set of hallways that stretched onto forever. I’ve had nightmares like this; you walk and walk but never see the end of the tunnel. I turned a corner and bumped into another lost soul who was trying to find his way to the main hall. “Let’s stick together,” I said.

On our journey to the main hall, we began to see other lost souls, “Follow us,” we called out. At one point, our group had grown to at least ten strong. We began to resemble the cast of “The Walking Dead” All we needed was Michonne and her katana. I told my fellow travelers that if we couldn’t find our way out of the building, I knew where the vending machines were. Disaster preparation training comes in handy at all times.


Finally, we heard voices; happy voices. We survived! After saying goodbye to my fellow travelers I found my family and we took pictures together. When it was time to drive home, we saw the damage that the storm had done. It was bad. Trees were down, power lines were down, no lights, no traffic lights. It was very scary making my way back home to Audubon. The trees in one section went down in a straight line. I was pretty sure we had been hit by a tornado, but the news stations says it wasn’t.                      


But a friend of mine took this picture from his home in East Greenwich/Mantua area. I'm thinking we had several small tornadoes across South Jersey, but I didn't see any other photos like the one from Mantua...still...the damage was similar.


I told my grandson, Josh, that this was one graduation that I would never forget. I actually had fun in spite of the storm. When my youngest grandson is ready to graduate from the wonderful Washington Township High School, six years from now, I’m going to ask permission to use a Segway to get around the building.


                                Did I mention how big that school is?


  1. Everyone being safe and the graduation completed. That's a win in my book, despite the hallway detours.