If you’re around high schools in the spring, you may have come across a Signing Party where the beloved star athlete proudly sits at a table next to a cake and balloons while TV cameras capture that precious moment when he/she puts pen to paper, officially announcing college choice intentions. Proud parents beam, draped in their fledgling’s college paraphernalia. The coach puts the school cap on the kid, and everybody eats cake.
Everybody, that is, except all the students rushing by to class. I was one of those parents celebrating my student athletes, and now I realize that this tribute for my child was unfair. It’s not that the athletes who get scholarships don’t deserve a celebration. What about everybody else in the school who is graduating, and has made college plans? This time in their life is the culmination of hard work, SAT pain and application fatigue. There’s excitement and fear and every adult emotion that comes with the realization that their life is their own, and it’s time to move on. More than that, it is probably the start of a significant financial sacrifice by the families.
One such celebration was held Thursday night in San Antonio. It was billed as a city-wide Signing Party. School buses and cars filled with hundreds of students, proud parents, counselors and college representatives descended on the Joe and Harry Freeman Coliseum around 5:30pm. The graduating seniors were invited to walk across the stage, introduce themselves, tell the crowd where they went to school, and what they planned to do next year. Many sported their intended colleges’ T-shirts. It got a little rowdy with the loud music & college school mascots (fortunately Bevo from UT did NOT attend), and the local radio personality helped the less outgoing seniors with their shout out. Every choice was applauded, from the community colleges, state schools, military institutions, and yes, a few going to NYU, Yale and other out of state locales.
Sponsoring organizations included Generation TX, a state-wide organization which encourages students to attend college. The event was hosted by San Antonio’s Mayor Julian Castro and his twin brother State Rep. Joaquin who are both graduates of Stanford and Harvard Law School. They know their responsibility as role models, and wear it well.
As the parade of students moved on, it was impossible to miss the fact that there were hundreds of students who didn’t show; most notably the entire north side of San Antonio failed to represent. Perhaps somebody didn’t get the call. Perhaps the schools didn’t feel it necessary to applaud the one accomplishment that is their central mission. Perhaps the students and parents have already moved on from thrill that their pride and joy is moving on to the crushing reality of the upcoming tuition bills. Then again, maybe they all think the whole signing party thing is just not very important.
I don’t think so.