Saturday, June 12, 2010
Elizabeth's High School Graduation
Friday afternoon I stood nervously in the crowded church, fanning myself with the program. I caught Hannah's eye--one of my honors writing students last year--as she raised her violin to her chin, Peter (another former student and hopefully in my honors class next year) lifting his violin and bow at the same time. In perfect synchronization, the bows shot up then down as the opening bars of "Pomp and Circumstance" rang forth from the Heritage String Ensemble--made up entirely of home-educated students of Heritage Christian School. As the familiar strains filled the church, Hosanna stepped forward into the aisle, stepping in time to the music of the live orchestra. Then we saw her...
...eighth in alphabetical order, her blue gown bringing out the blue of her eyes, her hair over her shoulder, throwing us a nervous smile. Keith stood on the aisle, snapping photos as she proceeded toward the front of the church, her cap at a rakish angle. She passed us, her blue and white tassel bobbing against her cheek.
Following the line of students, she filed into the front row on our side of the church, the graduates lining the rows with the Sounds of Freedom, Heritage Christian School's award-winning choir, behind them, unobtrusive in black. As the final notes faded and the orchestra quietly exited, our principal, Mary York, mother of seven, stepped forward to present the Mothers' Diplomas--diplomas to the mothers who were graduating their youngest students (I only have eight more years to go!). After the commencement address by Scott York, the principal's husband, the students came into the pews, yellow roses in hand to present to their mothers. Elizabeth came down to us, handing a tearful me a rose with a hug, then hugged Keith and my parents before heading further back into the pews to greet and hug my brother, Keith's dad and sister, my parents' best friends Dan and Francie, my mom's cousin Rick, and my dear college friend and the kids' math tutor and second godmother, Johanna.
Very soon after the looooong presentation of diplomas started. With seventy-five students, almost half of which gave 90-second speech. Many of the speech-givers are part of our school's debate team who just competed in the Nationals, and Elizabeth's speech was not out-of-place among them. She was a little nervous, forgetting her favorite line about those who spoke willingly versus those who were forced to give a speech as their parents' graduation requirement. :) But she did a great job! Some of the speeches were funny, some serious, some a mixture, but it was wonderful to hear the speeches and see a few antics here and there--like Justin's punk/pop bandmates rushing the stage to give him flowers. Many of the graduates were former writing students of mine, so I enjoyed hearing their speeches and watching them speak--one even thanked me publicly. Thanks, Cam. :)
After the ceremony, my extended family, not exactly churchgoers, noted how nice the ceremony was. Elizabeth stopped to hug her fellow graduates, many of whom she had started kindergarten with at our twice-monthly Class Days. We chatted with family and friends for a little while, then got in line for dinner which was catered for the school by Pat & Oscars. As we stood in line, we were given appetizers by one of the juniors--who just finished my writing class--and then we were able to look at the seniors' photo boards they had prepared as we waited in the dinner line. Within ten minutes we were sitting down to eat. As soon as we finished the meal, the boys brought us cake, and then Elizabeth was talking with friends, signing their yearbooks while they signed hers.
I love that our homeschool private study program (PSP) is such a wonderful balance of school and homeschooling: yearbooks, senior events, senior formal, a beautiful graduation ceremony with caps and gowns, speeches and a lovely sit-down reception. Class Days provide science labs, writing classes, chess clubs, foreign language and music lessons, and all sorts of classes from preschool to American Government and Economics, film and theatre, PE and cooking. And then the rest of the time, we're at home with our children, accountable via annual testing for grades 4-11 and quarterly progress reports/report cards. The school prepares high school transcripts for seniors and offers outside courses in SAT prep, honors chemistry, plus sports teams--basketball and volleyball for boys and girls right now, and a new drama club that performed its first play--plus a student newspaper. It's a great balance between home and school, family and friends, activity and relaxation.
And we are so thankful for Heritage Christian School and our first homeschooled graduate, our Elizabeth.