By John Pierce

There are 96 members of my daughter’s high school class who will receive diplomas today. The school has an Honors Night tradition of having a teacher say something about each graduate.

So I arrived at last night’s dinner program in the same endurance mode as earlier days of piano recitals: sit through and applaud all, but really care about only one.

The four-hour-plus event started with good Carrabba’s food, nice table companions and a well-produced video overview of the Class of 2011. Then the marathon of student tributes began.

For the most part, faculty speakers were concise — and a few even entertaining. Students hustled to the stage for their moment in the spotlight.

Stories of academic and athletic prowess flowed as expected. Others were noted for their school spirit or leadership skills. For the few, teachers made up something.

What surprised me most, however, were the stories of generosity and selfless acts: students who serve those in need locally or go on international mission trips — beyond official community-service requirements.

One teacher told of seeing a student stash a wad of money in a bucket set up for loose change to meet the needs of a hurting family. Counting the money at the end of the school day, he found $86 in rolled bills among the quarters and dimes.

The next day he asked the student about the money. She shrugged and said: “I had a good birthday — and thought I’d share.”

The night was long. Endurance was expected and needed. But inspiration was found as well.

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