Not all tears are evil ... and it's a good thing, too [Sunday, Jun. 27, 2004, 5:30 pm]
ALL SHALL ADORE THE CLASS OF 2004!
(author's note: I make no apologies for the excruciating length of this thing - a girl's gotta have her say on graduation day)
Yes, my friends, it's all over. High school is behind me forever. I'm a graduate, *sob*. If I ever graduate from college, I'll have to remember my tissues.
I had quite a long day yesterday - I worked for 3 hours in the morning, and then went down to Portland for graduation. Since it's all over, I suppose it won't hurt to say that I graduated from North Atlantic Regional High School, which is a fully accredited private school started 15 years ago by a husband and wife team. They provide real high school diplomas for homeschoolers, and graduate thousands of students each year from around the world. I'm already sounding like a sales person, aren't I? Anyway, in this graduation, there were 70 students, which was quite a lot compared to past years. And I didn't know a single one.
So we were all sitting there for the rehearsal, and the head of NARHS was on the platform. He decided to sing "You raise me up", just to help calm our nerves, and he did a pretty good job of it. He made a comment after we had all finished the rehearsal business, that when he worked at a public school, it took them 2 and a half days to fully rehearse their graduation ceremony - and we did it in 70 minutes. Pretty good. Well, we all went out to get our caps & gowns after that.
I wish I knew what the story is behind the invention of that garb - I can just assume that someone was really eager to make graduates look ridiculous. Oh well - we were all wearing the same thing, so it's not like I felt too self-conscious. Usually all the boys wear one color and the girls wear another - but I wanted hunter green. I hate white, (which is what most of the girls wore), cuz it's see-through and easy to stain. Fortunately, there were about 5 or 6 girls other than me wearing hunter green, so I didn't feel like I stuck out too badly.
And then we all entered the sanctuary to the tune of "Pomp and Circumstance". I like that title for some reason - it sounds so snobbish, but I still like it.
Well, they put us all in alphabetical order, based on last names. And, I'll be so bold as to say that my last name is in the first half of the alphabet, so I didn't have to wait too long. (The last guy to get up said "Isn't it great to be a Williams?"). I was nervous. And the whole ceremony was just so touching. Basically, the parents of the students got up with them, and they had to say a little something - it had to be under one minute, but many of them went over that.
But the things they said had me tearing up, before it was even my TURN. I was just afraid I'd lose it on stage. Well, they finally called me up. I didn't puke, pass out, or trip over the microphone cord - aren't I something? So they presented me with my diploma. I confess, I was expecting it to be in the form of a scroll, just like the stereyotypical high school diploma - but it was a plaque instead. Very nice, just the same. And then I walked over to the middle of the stage and did the "Moving of the tassle". I really wonder what that's supposed to symbolize...
And then I went over to my parents. They gave me a lovely red rose. My dad did the talking, cuz I could tell my mom was a little teary-eyed. He said something about how proud they were of me, and everything I'd accomplished, and all the help I'd been at home... and then they hugged me and we started walking off the stage. And I started blubbering. I tried to hold it in, but I just couldn't help it. Thank God for waterproof mascara. So I sat back down with the students, wiping my eyes occasionally. I didn't bring any tissues of course, and when I cry, my nose always runs.
But I managed somehow. I wasn't expecting to do that, obviously. I think that's one way that I'm a lot like LotR's Eowyn - I may not appear emotional, but I really am. I probably seem like a distant person, and maybe even cold to some people, but I'm not like that on the inside - and sometimes it shows through.
I was wiping my eyes throughout the rest of the ceremony too. I hope this doesn't sound biased (although I know it is), but ... homeschoolers rock. It just felt like a community, hearing all the stories that the parents shared. Stories about kids who had been labeled as "Learning disabled", "dyslexic", or "ADD" by the public school system, just because they were different from other kids and didn't fit "the mold". But those kids were NOT stupid. Once their parents started educating them, they got to learn in their own ways, at their own paces. And they excelled. I'd say a large portion of the kids there graduated a year earlier than usual. There was even at least one 15-year-old there.
At the end of the presentations, we all got up on stage for a group picture time. We had to stand there for a while, then hold our diplomas up, and then our hats. In the background, the Kathy Troccoli song "Go light your world" was playing. I think it was very appropriate - like it was saying to us, "Okay, you've completed high school, and you all have great futures ahead of you - go light the world." That was really the underlying message of the whole thing. God helped us all get to that point, and He will be with us through the rest of our journeys.
When it was all over, I finally met up with my family, and both sets of grandparents, and we went out to eat. On the way, my younger siblings were all fighting over who got to wear my hat, for some reason. I'm keeping the tassle, but I decided to give the cap & gown to them, to play dress-ups with. Although that gown might make a decent bathrobe...
We ended up going to the Olive Garden, and each ate about 2 meals' worth of food. I'd never been there before, which was why I wanted to try it out, and it was wonderful. I got some nice presents while we were eating too. One set of grandparents gave me money, and the others gave me a nice Afghan, which had my name & graduation date on it, and said "Class of 2004". And my parents did give me a necklace - but I still like it. At least it wasn't my birth stone this time, which is yucky lime green (peridot). It was Tourmaline, which is the Maine state gemstone - a much nicer, darker green.
The bad part was, I went to the bathroom between the meal and dessert (to see if I could maybe make some extra room for it), and when I came back, they said a bunch of the waiters had brought the desserts and sang to me, but I wasn't there! I felt so bad...
Still, it was a wonderful day altogether. I was watching the bits of the ceremony that my sister videotaped, and I guess I didn't look too bad, although my bratty hair had some frizz going on, as usual. But I guess that really doesn't matter. I'm a graduate... It's so hard to believe. It's as if my childhood is now officially over, and I have to start becoming a more mature adult. But despite its shortcomings, I can say that I'm very glad to have spent my schooling years as a homeschooler. I'm so thankful for a place like NARHS, and the dedicated people who work there, who are so willing to help homeschoolers in any way they can, and give us real diplomas and graduations, recognizing all the hours of hard work we'd done over the past years.
Well, I'll stop this now, but I definitely had a great day yesterday - sad and happy at the same time, but certainly memorable.
"This is your test. Every path you have trod through wilderness or war has led to this road."
-Lord of the Rings-
Vitality - Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2009