The commencement ceremony began just like any other, with graduates marching to the familiar strains of Pomp and Circumstance.
This one, however, quickly transitioned into a little ditty sung to the tune of Itsy Bitsy Spider.
In a ceremony that was brief yet poignant, thirteen youngsters donning caps and gowns filed into the Marlo Thomas Center auditorium for graduation ceremonies honoring the 2019 kindergarten class of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Parents and audience members strained for a view and raised cell phones to capture the scene.
The kindergartners were a lot like those in any other school, except for one big distinction: They have been undergoing treatment at St. Jude for cancer and other catastrophic childhood diseases. Four of the 17 children in the class were absent because of therapy-related issues and other reasons.
The class included patients from as far away as Nicaragua. And, like all 5- and 6-year-olds, they harbor a wide range of dreams and ambitions. A brief slide show on the graduates told how some want to work at St. Jude as doctors or nurses, while a few others listed professions such as firefighting, law enforcement and videography.
As for others, well, they are kindergartners, after all. “Spiderman” was one boy’s dream occupation, while another listed “Bumblebee,” a character from the Transformers movies. Still another mentioned becoming “an army guy.”
The tone for the event was set by St. Jude music therapist Amy Love. She strummed a guitar as the audience serenaded the graduates with lyrics that ended as follows:
No more time for naps,
but always time for play
it’s time for first grade