What Senior Day Means To Me

There’s several things about this picture. For one, it’s the first time I’d ever asked a student (other than Maci) to take a picture with me. Later I took pictures with Malia Simmons and Tymiah Wimbush, and I’ll take one soon with Kadence. That’s the only students I’ve ever asked to take a picture with me (aside from family).

I could have used the pictures of Malia and Tymiah, but I kinda knew I’d stay in touch with them. This picture was different. I really felt like this was the last time I’d ever see this child, and I hate that feeling.

Well, Jillian is no longer a child; she’s a young woman with a great future. And we do stay in touch with each other, so that feeling of never seeing her again was probably an overreaction. But the truth is: Senior Day is the last time I see most of the kids I photograph.

Maybe that’s why I like to take a picture with a select few of them as the end draws near.

I know ahead of time, and I also know after the fact, that Senior Day is really a day of celebration. These kids have accomplished something in school that few of us experience. They’re being recognized for their accomplishments on what is genuinely the first day of the rest of their life. It’s a small sign of the great things to come in each of their lives.

Some of them I don’t really know, but they’ve been a part of what I do. Last week I saw Aaliyah Harris for the last time; this week I’ll see McKenna Snivley once more… I always tell myself that I’ll make it to one of their college games when in reality I have trouble getting across town some days. But who knows; maybe I will and I choose to work toward that goal.

Then there’s Allie. It’s natural that I’ll miss these kids when they’re gone, if only from a sports viewpoint. But people like Allie become a part of who I am. The “thank you for coming” texts. the more light hearted texts (“are the pictures ready yet?”), shouting out into the stands for her dad to call and check on me when I don’t show up, coming to my house with a championship t-shirt that makes me feel like I was part of the team.

And Meri. One of the first stories I ever wrote was about a group of cheerleaders that included Meri’s mom, and now her daughter is a senior and somewhat of a hero to me. It’s both poetic justice and melancholy grace that I’ll take Meri’s Senior Day pictures tomorrow.

How do I even begin to say “Thank You”?

Next year will be even harder… Kadence Woodlief, Madison Primm, Addison Rowan, Sam Huff, Camryn Stancil and of course Maci Taylor. It’s easy to say these are good kids, but these girls are some of the best people I’ve ever known.

For me, there’s always next year. And as hard as it is to imagine, it seems that each new year brings an even better group of lower classmen toward graduation. Through my lens, it’s so easy to see that this area is loaded with great young people.

But as I get older and my lungs get weaker, it becomes more difficult for me to get to the games. At some point, it’s going to be my last game. I hope that’s a few years down the road and I pray that the Lord will show me the time and the way to exit that is best for everyone.

Meanwhile, don’t be surprised if I just ease out the door before someone else’s “last game” gets to the final buzzer.

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Freelance photographer

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Gill Clopton

Gill Clopton

Freelance photographer

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