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Posts Tagged ‘Graduation’

June means the season of high school graduations and of weddings.

These are both events of our kids stepping further into their dreams, their futures and their lives. These times of celebration and ritual are opportunities in our parenting lives to further push them from the nests in which we have kept them protected and loved.

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Our International student is graduating high school, and preparing for the next stage of his life with excitement and anxiety over the decisions that need to be made for his future.

One evening he was, quite simply, distraught with a decision between two universities. He had, wisely, asked many people for their advise as to which school to attend in the fall. In turn, they had (not so wisely) told him, definitively, which university was better. He was in a bit of a tailspin as to what to do. The people whose advice he sought, were ones who he trusted, yet, they did not all agree on which school would be better, for him.

Watching him that night was like watching a little bird curled up in the nest, not wanting to dare to move as he might not do it ‘right’.

I listened, and listened, and listened (he really likes to talk!), and then I gave him my advice (like he didn’t have enough already).

I reminded him that both schools were good schools … no academic lemon in either. Both schools would provide unique learning and social opportunities. And that his decision was only about one year of his life. There was not much ‘damage’ that one year could do to his future. And that God has plans to give him a hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11).

As parents, and parent-figures, in the lives of those who have or are about to graduate, part of our push from the nest is the continued prayers for their souls.

“Most of all I want to know that you’re walking in the truth

And if I never told you, I want you to know

I pray that God will fill your heart with dreams

And that faith gives you the courage to dare to do great things.”

The Lord came and stood there,
calling as at the other times,
“Samuel! Samuel!”

Then Samuel said,
“Speak, for your servant is listening.”
1 Samuel 3:10

May we all, like the prophet Samuel, graduate in this life to say,

“Speak, for your servant is listening.”

 

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Today I write to, and about our oldest daughter, who is embarking on an adventure away from us. It is not the first, nor will it be the last … but there are no tears.

I have often been teased (goodhearted) about not shedding a tear at her high school graduation. Really, although proud of the hard work she did, graduating was not an academic struggle for her. Oh, she worked her tail off, but graduating was never in doubt for her.

As she prepares, and boards the plane tomorrow for the East Coast (a reversal of her parents from their Easterly homes, to our present Western one), not a tear will be shed. Oh, she has worked hard all summer, some weeks working twelve hour days, but she is going on to a new adventure, one that will include extended family who she has never had the benefit of daily contact.

Over the years, though, there have been tears …

“Let my stories be whispered”

From when you were just a young child, I have been learning to lay you back into the hands of your Creator (A Most Desired Child). This lesson will continue to my dying day, and with many tears.

“I took the path less traveled on”

I remember a few years back, when you decided to go on a mission trip with your church youth group to Tijuana, Mexico. I was so excited for you to have that adventure, to help orphaned children and for you to see how God might use the gifts and talents He has given you.

But …

I was scared you would be murdered or raped or traumatized or kidnapped. So, I drove you to that train station in Seattle. I tried to absorb every last moment with you, fearing it might be our last. I hugged you, told you I loved you. Then I had to watch you walk … away … staying strong. Until I walked from the station, with tears streaming down my face … asking God to go with you.

And then when you told me, just a year ago, of your desire to go to India, to work with the children of Calcutta. I listened to your dreams, asked the right questions. But, when I was alone, the tears streamed down my face, as I asked God to give me the strength to let you live your life. And, one day, I will stand at the airport, holding you and telling you I love you, uttering best wishes, and watch you walk away to board your flight that will take you to the mission of Mother Teressa and the Sisters of Charity, and tears will stream down my face, as I ask God to go with you.

“this life is as fragile as a dream”

That night in April, of 2008, was a night that God tested me. As I stood at the back of a church, knowing only that you were in there, somewhere, after the floor of the church had collapsed (Starfield Concert). After the frantic search, the long drive home, the holding you in bed … I collapsed on my knees and thanked God for giving you to me for another day … and the tears were streaming down my face.

“Cause in this life you must find something to live for”

When you were only three, I remember your voice, as we both knelt at your bed, and you prayed to give your heart to Jesus. I remember feeling such privilege to be there to kneel on that holy ground with you … and the tears were streaming down my face.

And, He goes with you now. You ‘know’ all that that means … and He is something to live for. I need to shed no tears, because this is a new beginning, and He goes with you.

Go with God … or, as they might say in the East, adieu ma fille chérie.

“I’ve always heard, every ending is also a beginning, we just don’t know it at the time … I’d like to believe that’s true.”

This is what we raise our children for …

I think, my firstborn daughter, that you can read between the lines here … think of it as my melody for you these next months. (and there was the shedding of tears in the writing of this post … but they were, selfishly, for my loss in the ending of this phase).

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It is end of the year at school, with exams, report cards, prom and graduation the main talks around the water fountain.

The students who are graduating out of the school system are a totally different group than when they entered.

In the beginning they were possibly still struggling with toileting, could barely print their names, might have been dealing with separation anxiety, and possibly still even needed a car seat .

Now, thirteen years later, they can fix an engine, write a manuscript, run for miles and recite Shakespeare. They can drive a car, survive alone at home, and are just months away from being able to elect our politicians.

Truly, if anyone has, they have experienced the reality of metamorphosis. Who they were in the beginning of their schooling is barely a shadow of who they are today.

Those who are graduating this year are fully immersed into all of the farewells, from all that they have known for the past thirteen years. They are having celebrations, receiving gifts and making plans for the rest of their lives. They may not know what their immediate or long term future will look like, but they all share one common bond … they are leaving home.

Now they might not be leaving their parent’s home, but they are leaving their school, and whether they spent just a year or all thirteen years there, they are leaving home.

School is not just a place of education, it is also a microcosm, or small picture, of society and more specifically, of family. Within the walls of every school are:

* the ‘perfect’ cousins, who do it all the right way … always!
* the uncle or aunt who is always carrying mints.
* the grandfather with a flatulence problem.
* the grandmother who cannot match her clothing colors.
* the weird uncle.

The list goes on and on.

The school family, like the ones we share Christmas with, is not perfect. It is often unpredictable, nosy, odd and embarrassing. It can make you feel as though it is ruling and ruining your life. It can seem like the only chance at freedom and a good and healthy future is to leave.

And then the day comes, and you hold that diploma, and it is time to leave … forever.

And whether you loved your school home, or were convinced that you never should have been there, all that you knew is done, over and gone … and it is never, ever going to be the same again.

The school family was not just the negative, the strange, the obscure. It was also the place where you had, not just moments of failure, but also moments of success. It was where that one teacher would say, “how are you?” and you knew that he or she really wanted to know. It was where you got your first taste of a gift or ability that you could be passionate about … in the lab, the computer room, the drama class, the gym, the English class, or in chatting it up with the custodian. It was where you first dealt with your fear of public speaking, test taking, sports, an engine, or computers (okay, that is just the staff).

When a graduate leaves their school home, there is adjustment coming. The expected is no more, the unexpected is all that is before you. The safe places to hide, and the spotlight to shine on you are changed. A temporary homelessness descends, and adjustment is necessary.

It was the school home. It is the place where students have gone from child to adult.

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Twenty-five years … can that really be possible?

Twenty-five years ago today I walked with my peers, down the aisle of our high school gymnasium to “Pomp and Circumstance,” wearing a burgundy cap and gown, smiling happily, thinking that this was the most exciting moment of my life. In my mind, life was about to begin, once that diploma was in my hand, and my cap was tossed in the air.

I graduated from a small rural school, in southern New Brunswick, along with fifty-eight of my classmates. Most of us got to school by bus. Kindergarten was not experienced by all, or even most of us, as kindergarten was still a private business.

Most of us started school in 1975.

We started school in the days of the ‘strap’, and graduated in the early days of the more emotionally feelings-based, psychological approach to discipline. We went to school in a time when you actually did not know if you would ‘grade’ until you saw your report card. We had mid-term exams in December, and finals in June. Our passing grade was not half way (50%), but 60%.

We dressed in bell bottoms, shoulder pads, miniskirts, turtle necks, neon colors, leg warmers, and Aviators.

We had wings, afros, and mullets. We parted our hair in the middle, to the side and had bangs. We used gel, mousse, Love’s Baby Soft and Brut.

We listened to disco, pop, country, heavy metal and classic rock.

The futures of many were to continue studies, but there were at least as many who were heading directly into the workforce. Since that night of anticipation of the future, we have had peers who have already passed into death.

As a group, we have had marriages and divorces, children and pets. There are those who have never moved from the village (yes, I grew up in a village … my own kids thought that villages were only part of fairy tales, and laugh loudly when the subject of my home ‘town’ comes up), and those who have lived around the world. We have worked in commerce, in business, in so many trades, in education, in health care, in marketing, in peacekeeping, in childcare and in our homes.

Many have done what they intended to do twenty-five years ago, and many have taken very divergent paths.

Our school motto, “esse quam videri” means “to be rather than to seem.” This sounds like a great motto for a high school, for I would hope that a young adult would leave school understanding that reality is better than imitation, that being yourself is better than being like everyone else.

As I am no expert in Latin, I checked it’s deeper meaning, and it’s origins. It would appear that it comes from a writing by Cicero. He was a wealthy Roman, in the last century of BC. He was a lawyer, a politician, an orator, a philosopher. Our school motto actually was part of a larger sentence in his writing “On Friendship”

“Virtute enim ipsa non tam multi praediti esse quam videri volunt

Which translates; “few are those who wish to be endowed with virtue rather than to seem so.”

Maybe it is because I am old, or maybe it is because I work in a high school, or maybe it is because I am the mother of teens, but I have much greater appreciation for the entire text than for the three part motto twenty-five years later!

Virtue goes beyond being real. Virtue is moral or ethical excellence. It is not just being yourself, but it is being the best YOU, that you can be. It is not just being excellent in and of yourself, but so that you can impact those around you. It is not perfection, it is effort! Truly it is the work of blood, sweat and tears. It is not about being, it is about doing.

Twenty-five years later, I have learned a precious lesson. My life did not begin when I had the diploma in my hand and my cap tossed in the air … but every morning that I awake, with the opportunity to chose to be the best I can be (for others) … that is when life begins … again, and again, and again. It is a life that is new and fresh every morning.

To those who I share this anniversary of common place and time, my thoughts and fun memories are with you today. May we all live the next twenty-five knowing that life has neither begun nor ended yet.

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Graduation

Graduation happens tonight for two of my three students (boy, do I know how to work myself out of a job). And, as with many ‘formalities’ in our lives, it takes me back … way back!

It has been twenty-four years since I graduated from high school, and twenty-two since I graduated from college with a certificate/diploma in drafting (that I have only used for ten months professionally, and for twenty-two years, designing my dream house).

I vividly remember the excitement of shopping for a dress for prom, our grad song (“Lean on Me”), planning what to do after our graduation ceremony, and looking forward to gifts of money …

In my small town of 1600’ish (at that time), high school graduation was HUGE! People from the community would come to watch the grads enter the school for prom (it was there because, in such a small town, the school had the largest facilities), to ohh and awe at the gowns, the spiffed up guys, and now they come to see what they will arrive in (apparently combine harvesters are not unusual now in that rural village). People from the community would come to the ceremony, like it was a community event … because it was!

University was not the goal of most of my fellow grads, although many did go … for a year (or, in my case, a few months) and a number even graduated. Many did go to college. But getting a job was the main goal for most … in a day and time when ‘you need to have a university degree to succeed’ was preached regularly preached at us. I am still, twenty-four years later, amazed that educated people can think that any one path works for all … obviously they forget that the people who fix their broken cars, unplug their septic systems, and wire that new outlet all do so without an undergrad! But, I digress …

Last nights graduation also took me back a year, to my oldest daughter’s graduation from high school. I still get ‘mamma guilted’ for not shedding a tear at that event (so she thinks 😉 ). To be honest, there weren’t many tears shed around her graduation. Not because I was not proud, but because graduation from high school is so … common today.

And that is a good thing.

But also, for my first born (who works her butt off), school (the academics of it) is not a huge struggle. Now she does well, because she works so hard, but she is an academic. So, for her, graduation was more of a celebration because it marked the beginnings of more study, just in an area she is more interested in … psychology (and it marked the beginnings of her study of us … her family).

For many, though, having society-imposed academic hoops to jump through is the greatest struggle of their life! And for those students, high school graduation (whatever ‘title’ their diploma has … dogwood or evergreen) is their finest moment … so far …

Thankfully, graduation from high school is just a step on the ladder of life … IT IS NOT LIFE itself! High school is just a very small microcosm of of life itself. It is not a predictor of future success (Winston Churchill failed grade 6), it is not the finest moment of life (there are so many that do not come until after high school graduation … like, following your passion, whatever it might be), it is not necessarily the place where people know you best (and I mean classmates, as well as teachers … give it about two to four years, and the light of who really knows you best will be ignited).

For the students I was paid to assist, as well as all others, congratulations … but don’t stop climbing … the peak of the mountain is just barely in view … and it’s all up from here.

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