Yep, you read that right. And it's not clickbait or anything. This is the actual story of how I quite literally nearly did not graduate from high school. This is a pretty lengthy story, so I'd suggest grabbing a cup of tea or coffee or hot cocoa (yum) and getting cozy. Comfy? Okay, let's do this.
Basically, this has a longgg backstory, so bear with me for a sec.
So my high school was a bit of a shit show when it came to course selection. And by that I mean that course selection was less of selecting the courses you would take the following year, and more of listing off the courses that you had hoped to take and then praying that you would be able to take it. They should've named the whole process something more fitting, like "Course Lottery". There was not a single year, save for grade nine, that I got into all the classes I had planned for. And not because the classes were full, or because I didn't have the prerequisites or whatever. Nope. It was because the classes I wanted to take kept getting the axe. Literally, at least five classes I had selected were dropped during my four years of high school.
It was the same thing every year. I'd get called down to the office at the end of the school year, weeks after sending in my course selection, and I'd come to a conference room full of other unlucky students, sheets of course outlines strewn across the table, and a few guidance counsellors there to inform me that, yet again, the courses I'd chosen for the following year were no longer available. Imagine my reaction when I walked in one year and had them say, "You've got it the worst out of anybody - three of your courses have been dropped. That's a new record!". Three out of eight courses in one year had to be replaced. I should've received a gold medal for Unluckiest Student of All Time. I spent a half an hour trying to decide on courses while every single person in the room stared at me sympathetically.
Forcing me to choose new courses in a limited amount of time without my parents there to consult on it was kind of a death sentence. It usually ended with disastrous outcomes, like taking grade eleven Chemistry, after failing the chemistry unit of my grade ten Science course. However, the real prize winner was grade twelve, when I was called in individually to my guidance counsellor's office to choose a new course. She basically informed me that I had two options: 1) to take a course at my school, out of the few available courses: gym (no), chemistry (GOD NO), and exercise science (was she even trying??), or 2) to take a course online, through another school district. Wait. I could do that??? Apparently! The world was my oyster - well, at least, Ontario was. So she showed me a bunch of courses that I could take and, feeling the pressure, I decided on Philosophy. Did I want to take Philosophy? No. Did I have any idea what Philosophy was even about? No x2. But hey, it wasn't gym. My guidance counsellor got in contact with the other school, which was in London, Ontario, and set up for me to take this class online. I got a login and a website URL and I was sent off to figure it out on my own. What could go wrong?
The course itself was surprisingly fine. I wasn't about to become the next Socrates or Descartes, but I did get a 90% in the end so I felt pretty good about myself. I had a few issues with the teacher, who claimed that I didn't hand things in when I had proof that I did, but it was sorted out eventually. I started to suspect that something fishy was going on when I realized that my grade for the course hadn't shown up on my midterm report card. I went to the office to tell them and they assured me that they received the mark but it wouldn't show up until my final report card. Okay, sure. They just reminded to come to them to make sure they'd received my mark at the end of the semester. So that's exactly what I did. And they said they got the mark and all was well.
Flash forward to graduation. I had this weird feeling all day. Yeah, I was anxious because I had to stand up in front of all the kids I went to high school with on a stage, in high heels, which is a disaster just waiting to happen. But there was this weird feeling, too, that I couldn't explain. Our graduation was held at a performing arts centre in the downtown area of our city. When all the students arrived, we were guided upstairs to this really big room which was used as a makeshift dressing room, where we would receive and dress in our caps and gowns. They had these long fold-out tables where staff were handing out packages according to our names. Basically, you got your cap, gown, and a little cue card which had your name on it. On the back of the card, it stated whether or not you were an Honours student and if you had any extra awards. When you went up to cross the stage to get your diploma, you'd hand the card to the announcer and they would say your name and awards. Pretty simple, right? So I get my little graduation set and join my friends to start getting ready. All my friends are talking excitedly about the awards they'd received, so I look at my own card. And there's nothing there. All it says is my name. I just kept flipping over, back and front, praying to god that I missed something. But nope. At this point, I'm panicking, hoping this some sort of a joke or something. I turned to one of my friends and said, "There's nothing on my card - no Honours or anything" to which they replied, "Well you clearly just didn't get Honours." So, peeved that the assumption was that I didn't get the grades and that this wasn't a mistake, I just said, "Uh, I finished with an 89%. I definitely got Honours." I was horrified and embarrassed because now I was the only one in my group who didn't have Honours and no one even though I got it in the first place. I worked my ass off in grade twelve. What was going on???
We were piled up into the theatre a bit later, where we sat in alphabetical order by last name until our row was called to line-up to cross the stage. My group was eventually called and we went to cross. I handed my card to the announcer and as they called out just my name, I gritted my teeth and tried not to cry. After a minute or so, they brought us out to the lobby to collect our ~real~ diploma (opposed to the fake one that they give you on stage) and the picture of our graduating class. I got my folder and headed back to my chair. As soon as I sat down and looked at the folder, I knew. I didn't even have to open it to be absolutely sure that there was no diploma in there. Just a thin sheet of paper. I sat there for the rest of the ceremony, trying to act cool in front of my friends, all the while trying to hold down a panic attack. To add insult to injury, they tossed their caps while I was outside, not getting my diploma. As the ceremony came to an end, my parents - who were sitting a few rows up, diagonally from me - turned around and gave me a thumbs up, as if to say "You did it!". I just looked back and shook my head.
When the ceremony was over, the students exited first, followed by the parents. I got out into the lobby and the first person I saw was my boyfriend. He walked up, all happy, and I just kept shaking my head, saying over and over, "I need my parents. I need to see my parents." So my parents come out, along with my boyfriend's parents, and as soon as I saw them, I burst into tears. Right there, in the lobby at my graduation, in front of all my high school classmates. I just kept saying, "I didn't graduate." So they're all confused like wtf of course you graduated. I handed my dad the folder and was like, "It isn't in there. Please look for me. I can't look at it." So he took out the sheet of paper which basically said, "Congratulations on graduating from ---- Secondary School. You technically graduated and all, but we're going to hold onto your diploma until you send us proof that you completed your online Philosophy course." I swear to god, I have never seen my dad so pissed off in my life. He stormed off, looking for my principal, while my mum and my boyfriend's mum tried to comfort me. I refused to take any pictures for a long time, as I was feeling pretty sorry for myself, standing in front of everyone sobbing (not that anyone actually noticed). But then all of a sudden, I just wiped my tears and said, "Okay, let's do this." My boyfriend and I took a bunch of pictures together and you'd never be able to tell that I'd been sobbing five seconds before. #talent
In the end, my dad gave my principal a LOT of shit for it. They tried to blame it all on me at first, saying that by taking an online course in another district, it was my responsibility to make sure that my school got the grades. Which would've been a fair point, had I not done exactly that months prior to graduation. They had even confirmed that the school had the grade in their system. So they apologized and said my dad could come in the next day to get my report card, my diploma, and my Ontario Scholars honours diploma. What killed me the most though was the fact that instead of getting in touch with me beforehand, and saying that they hadn't yet received the mark, they decided to instead let me fake graduate and make it all way more convoluted. Cause that makes sense????
In the end, I graduated with an 89% and I was an Honours student, and all was sorted out. And it's something to look back on and laugh about now because it was so perfectly ironic that my school had to do just one last crazy thing to me before I graduated. But it's still pretty disappointing that I didn't get the satisfaction of standing on stage in front of all my peers, with someone announcing that I got Honours. It's like there was nothing to show for all that hard work that I'd done - isn't that what graduation is for???
So that's the story of how I nearly didn't graduate! Super stressful day but a helluva story now, haha. I don't do a lot of these storytime sorts of posts - or any at all - but I hope you enjoyed it!! Let me know in the comments if you want more posts like this :)