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Tue, Mar 28, 2017 09:20 AM
Wednesday, March 8, 2017 issue
This n' That
Graduation time
It won't be too long before we hear the inspirational strains of "Pomp and Circumstance" as area seniors say goodbye to high school and embark on another phase of their lives.

Every year at this time, I can't help but think about my own graduation (which marks year No. 22 this year) and how excited the Paintsville High School class of 1981 was to be getting the heck out of Dodge. I have particularly special memories this year because one of my classmates and best friends, Melinda Gray Johnson, is recovering from a recent kidney transplant. Melinda and I were inseparable in our final days of high school, and afterwards we spent much of the summer together before she headed off to Eastern Kentucky University and I to Prestonsburg Community College to begin our college career. Hers lasted much longer than mine as I eventually became a PCC dropout and she finished college and became a paralegal.

Melinda and I had gotten especially close in our senior year of high school due to our service on the PHS Student Council. I was student body president and she was my faithful vice president, and we worked side by side on the various projects the council sponsored. I know there were times that we drove student council sponsor June Rice crazy, but June got her revenge years later when she wrote a column talking about PHS graduates who were in the newspaper business and left me out.

One of the best things about being a senior back then was getting out of school several days before the underclassmen, and Melinda and I took full advantage of that perk, cruising around town and enjoying our freedom. One day we were driving down Main Street and noticed a yard that had been designated Yard of the Month by the Paintsville Garden Club. Being big-shot, soon-to-be graduates, (and I hate to admit this, but, as they say, the truth will set you free), we vowed to return one night and turn the prettiest yard in town to mush. We never did, of course, but we sure liked to brag to others about our evil plans.

As is always the case when school mates become adults, Melinda and I went our separate ways but have kept in touch as much as possible. Last summer at a school reunion for the PHS classes of 1981, 1982 and 1983, it was Melinda who drove me home after my ride left before the reunion was over. We talked about the good old days, the present days and her impending kidney transplant. As always, Melinda kept an optimistic outlook, which is why I know she'll bounce back just fine.

I know kids get sick and tired of adults telling them that their high school years are the best years of their lives. I think graduation is the first time some kids realize that that could possibly be true, but by that time it's too late.

My high school life wasn't too bad, and I have to admit that I especially enjoyed my senior year because that was the only time my classmates and I were kings and queens of the school.

Melinda also made it a special year, and as soon as she gets back on her feet I'll let her know how much I appreciated it.

And she'd better get back on her feet soon because she and I have some unfinished yard work to do.

Appalachian Regional Health Care
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