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Graduation 10 years ago: A look back at simpler times
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­ My graduation was sweet.
It was ages ago, back when talking in person was a primary mode of communication. People did things the hard way, by working.

Clad in the red and black of the Klawock High School Chieftains, the 15 of us marched down the middle of the gym until we were all seated in upholstered chairs on stage. People spoke.

I gave a speech about my aspirations of eventually becoming an English teacher and outdoor writer in Manteca, California but had to interrupt myself to let my cross country coach know a polar bear was getting into the baby seal soup on the reception table in back.

He tossed a mastodon bone out the front door of the basketball igloo and the bear ran off.

Crisis averted, I continued speaking about who knows what. It wasn’t the typical “we’ve come so this is it” because my English teacher told me never to write crap you’ve already heard, and if you hadn’t heard it, but it sounded like crap, to not write that either. Four years of English summed up in two simple steps.

Once we received our diplomas we walked to the back of the gym and stood in front of our box. It was tradition that seniors have their underclassman friends decorate a box with pictures, school colors and maybe even an inspirational Chris Farley quote. Before the ceremony, members of the community dropped in gifts ranging from Native art to gift cards, cash and towels.

So I stood in front of my box as Klawockians walked past us, giving them hugs, shaking hands and telling us to remember where we came from.

Despite being white in a mostly Native town, the community claimed my family and me.

People I hardly knew shook my hand, smiled and dropped loot into my box. I was just a punk senior that thought I knew everything, but really had no clue. Of course now, looking back I can glean lessons, but at the time, clueless.

After about an hour of reception I went back to my house, ate cake with some friends, gave my box a once-over then went to bed.

High school was checked off the list and I was headed to college in the fall. My line was in the water and I only needed to set the hook when something grand came along. Once I clubbed it and put it in the cooler, I’d be at it again, hooking fish; metaphors for adventures that excited, maybe even frightened me. Anyone that has had line stripped from the spool has felt that nearly nauseating feeling of inadequacy. The gear won’t hold. I don’t have what it takes. But with some courage and fortitude, the fight continues and if the fish hits shore, or breaks the line, being engaged in the epic battle is far better than sitting on the shore with rod and reel in hand, too scared at the thought of losing a fish, that you never end up fishing.

That wasn’t in my speech 11 years ago, but that’s what I’ve learned since.  

To contact Jeff Lund, e-mail