The name for these varies from school to school, but it is usually the top ten percent of the junior class that helps coordinate the graduation ceremony. It is a very tedious and boring job.

The only real enjoyment one can take out of it is being seen as part of the ceremony, and provided that you have a good job, are well recognized by the crowd.

I was a junior marshall tonight, June 1st, 2001. I led the valedictorian to the stage. I didn't trip. I didn't scream expletives. I walked calmly, and then, my male partner and I split like a banana as she approached the stage and turned to give her speech.

A junior marshall feels like a very significant person until they look at the program for the ceremony and don't even see their name mentioned.

I was somewhat nonplussed as I watched the entire event. I stood there watching every senior I knew (with the exception of the flunkees who were in the bleachers sulking) and accepting the fact that they were leaving me. Some I didn't know. Some I didn't like. But most I realized that I'd miss, not because I had some huge bond with, but because they provided some element to the school that made it what it was. I saw a boy I know and admire looking straight ahead at me.

He doesn't look any older than me. But he was wearing the long black gown with the mortarboard--and I was wearing the short white dress with the sash across it. Who was luckier here? Him or me? He was being rewarded for his years of work by getting to shake the hand of a principal and leave with a little black book. I was getting the benefit of one more year of laying back on my parents for support and the likes of familiarity. I was still being rewarded. I was a junior marshall.

As the student body president ended a prayer, the other junior marshalls and I took our seats. The choir began to sing. I turned around. A boy I know was looking at me, holding his horn. He smiled. He was not a junior marshall, but he was still successful right there, and he had what he wanted.

After that, the diplomas were handed out. I never had to stand, as I had another year before I would walk on that stage. As each one filed by the line of people, I knew I'd never see them again, not even the ones I liked. I didn't clap. I was proud, but I couldn't show it. And then it was all over. And we left. And we went through a long corridor of teachers patting the graduates on the back and then we went through behind them and the teachers said, "Next year." And I lowered my head to the ground. And I went home. I will never see slightly-older-looking-than-me boy again. I will have his name. I will have his picture. But I won't have him. I am a junior marshall. But I'm not a graduate. Not until next year. Until then, "Hands on hips, fingers on lips!"

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