Saturday, May 28, 2016

The Graduates 2016

The Spirit Rock at Blue Ridge High says it all.

Our family had a bumper crop of high school graduates this year. My youngest, Dylan, graduated last night from Blue Ridge High. The previous night my niece Emma graduated from Show Low High, our chief rival in all things athletic here on the mountain, located about 10 miles of highway north of us. And a week ago my niece Katie graduated from Liberty High in Peoria, a four-hour drive from here. We are so proud of each one!

Dylan and friends on Friday morning, before graduation practice.
May 27, 2016

It began with graduation practices, one on Thursday afternoon as soon as the kids stepped off the bus on their return from their California senior trip, and then again on Friday morning. I never got to see graduation practice for Sarah or Jacob because their graduations were held on the evening of the last day of school, so I was in classes all day in 2008 and 2010.

The seniors are in their assigned seats, awaiting instructions.

However, in 2016, Dylan's ceremony was the day after the high school's last day of school (all other schools in the district still had classes on Friday, though), so I was able to stop by and check it out. In fact, I was invited to be there at 8:00 sharp, along with maybe half a dozen other parents, to receive instructions on how to get up on stage to hand the diploma to my son when his turn came. (As I mentioned in an earlier post, being allowed to hand a diploma to our children is one of the perks extended to all school district employees.)

Gotta look fine under the cap and gown, too!

Between the practice session in the morning and the actual ceremony in the evening (at 7:30), we were plenty busy. It was still a work day for me, but after I finished some tasks in my classroom, I returned home and we started getting Dylan moved into his new apartment. (Our gratitude to Chris's mom, Brenda, for the use of her truck to haul furniture!)

That's right. Dylan graduated last night and tomorrow he is moving out. My nest will truly be empty! But more about all that in the next post...

Dylan makes his graduation regalia look good!

After moving the furniture (just a bed, a desk, a wall unit of shelves, and a hand-me-down love-seat, along with a myriad of smaller items such as a TV, laptop, video games, clothes, and so on), we all went out to Taco Bell for a quick dinner before it was time to get ready for graduation. One of the very awesome things about Dylan's graduation is that Jacob and Danielle drove all the way from Utah to be here for Dylan, and it was so great to share all of this with them!

Waiting with friends to line up for the processional before it all begins.

Dylan and I both had to be at the school an hour and a half before graduation began. Him, because he's a graduate, and me, because I'm faculty. The rest of the family wasn't too far behind us, which was a good thing because the parking and the seating filled up a full hour before the ceremony began.

Brenda (Chris's mom), Danielle, Jacob (with balloons), Chris, and Sarah
arrive and begin their search for seating in the Blue Ridge football stadium.

Jacob and Danielle made a stop to get balloons and a cake to surprise Dylan, while Sarah got him a lovely bouquet of flowers. They really wanted to make this day special for their not-so-little little brother.

Dylan does "The Walk," joining the processional with his friend Tayler, out to the football field. (30 seconds)

You'll notice there's a gap here, with no photos of Dylan on the stand receiving his diploma. Those will come later. I wasn't able to take pictures of that part of the ceremony because I was too busy trying not to trip on the steps or knock the school board members off the stand when I went up to hand the diploma to my son.

I was shivering (with cold or fear, or a little of both) when Dylan came up the steps and opened his arms, saying, "Hi, Mommy." I grinned and handed him his diploma, and then he grabbed me in a big bear hug. The school board members nearest to us let out a big, "Awww..." It was a sweet moment for me, the last time I will get to hand one of my children their diploma. Both happy and a little sad.

Soon the photos of Dylan's big moment, captured by the school's photographers, will be posted online and I'll be able to order them. At that time, I will share.

The Blue Ridge graduating class of 2016 gives one last "We are B R!" cheer before turning their tassels and launching their caps into the air. I love when the senior class president turns to take a selfie with his 162 classmates! (45 seconds)

Dylan with his haul of balloons, flowers, cake, cards, and diploma.

Dylan and his graduation cake. A Walmart co-worker added the crayons
and said they represented his graduation from babyhood!

We got home around 10:15 and then we enjoyed some of the graduation cake provided by Jacob and Danielle. It had been quite a long and busy, yet deeply satisfying, day. Congratulations, my son. I am so proud of you!

Show Low High School graduation, May 26, 2016.

On Thursday night we got to attend the graduation of my niece Emma. Instead of a night of purple-and-gold Yellow Jackets on the football field, it was a night of green-and-gold Cougars in the school gym.

Emma receives her diploma.

After graduation ended, Jeff and Dana had a gathering at their house to celebrate both Emma's graduation from high school and her younger sister Hayden's promotion from eighth grade. Our family went straight from the graduation to Native Grill and Wings (formerly Native New Yorker) for dinner, and then we dropped by to join Emma's party for about half an hour.

Emma with her parents, Dana and Jeff (my brother).

Two of my beautiful nieces, Hayden and Emma, both moving on in life!

Emma with Aunt Mary and Uncle Mark, and cousins Jacob and Danielle.

We would have liked to stay longer, but Jacob and Danielle had had a very long day. They'd left Utah at 5:00 a.m. (which would be 4:00 a.m. here in Arizona) and arrived just 2 hours before Emma's ceremony began, so they were extremely exhausted. Thus, we said our farewells and wished Emma the very best before taking our leave.

A couple of Katie's senior pictures.

Unfortunately, we weren't able to attend the graduation of my beautiful niece Katie on May 20th, due to the distance and the fact that our school was still in session so I had to work that day. But we were certainly with her in spirit and wishing her well! 

I am so proud of each of these amazing kids and their accomplishments! Now, Dylan, Emma, and Katie...Go forth and conquer!

Katie is the daughter of my brother LeRoy and his wife Lori.

Katie with a friend on graduation night.
Photo courtesy of her mom Lori's Facebook page!

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