When I went to high school graduations in the 1950s, I amused myself by counting names in the program. Elizabeth and Patricia usually won as the most common first names for girls, and John and William usually edged out James and Robert for boys. Often my middle name, Ann, outnumbered all other middle names.
Last weekend at a young relative’s high school graduation I played the old game. I started by looking for Elizabeth and Patricia. I found two Elizabeths but not one Patricia. No first names dominated among the girls, and several never graced class lists 50 years ago. I never knew anyone named Baylea, Bestaida, Mia, Cadence, Latisha, Abbey, Kacy, Lara, Chelsie, Mercedes, or Jasmine. I found two girls with Ann as a middle name.
The class had only one John, one William, one James, and one Robert. Boys’ names varied as much as the girls did. One of the most popular names, Caleb, had different spellings, including Kaleb and Kalaeb.
The names had changed, and the student with the longest hair was a boy, but the graduates had the excited and eager but uncertain expressions familiar when I counted Patricias.