Monday, May 11, 2015

Graduation, Celebrations, Mother's Day and the Moody Blues Concert - Whew, What a Weekend!

It was a whirlwind weekend. Ellie graduated from high school, so that was both a ceremony and two parties. Then the kids managed to put on a really lovely Mother's Day brunch on Sunday and Larr and I went to the Moody Blues concert on Sunday night. It was great, but I am also happy that it is all done.

This year Alpine Valley School had five graduates. That is a lot for our tiny school who usually has one or maybe two graduates a year. It is also the end of an era, with Ellie being the last founder's kid to graduate. She was a mere babe in arms when we signed the lease for the first building we were in. Xander, the one on the left end, wearing a bowtie, was pretty close to being a founder's kid, just missing the beginning by a few years. He is the last of his family to graduate with all three of the kids attending AVS.
Connie was the head of Ellie's Thesis panel. Ellie knew that she wanted Connie to hold that important position in her life since she was young. Connie told a few short stories about Ellie and her speech was very personal.

It took a lot of hard work to get to this point. Going to a small school, each person really has to face him/herself, own up to what he/she does right, reckon with what he/she does wrong - a small community of dedicated learners is a very strong mirror. As a result, Ellie has become a strong, knowledgeable, capable and honorable young woman. Much of what she knows about herself was hard won through dealing with tough stuff. It is exciting to see what she will do next. That is also a little scary.

As is tradition at our school, the parents of the graduates host the celebratory reception. That was a process in and of its own, with five families to orchestrate. It turned out beautifully, but I will save that for the next post. (I want the focus to be on Ellie for this entry.)

Kohlton had a lot of family members come to town for graduation. His Uncle Adam came in all the way from Alaska. It was a surprise that he and Kohlton's Grandma Linda arranged, so that was a surprise for both Kohlton, and his mother, Britt. I am pretty sure that Uncle Adam is one of Kohlton's favorite people, so having him there was a gift in its own right.
Kohlton's grandparents from Boston and Arizona also came to town to take part in the celebration.
The kids were graceful and beautiful this weekend.

Here are the other graduates:

This is Xander with Larr, who is speaking about knowing Xander since he was an infant.

Here is Ian, who took the thesis process to heart and did some deep soul searching, growing and achieving, and all with great humor.
This is Brandon (or Brandy, as many have called him since he joined the school at 8 years old.) with Missa speaking about him. You can always count on the sweetness of Brandon to help you see the bright side of things, offer compassion and be supportive. He has worked through some hard stuff to get to graduation.
And finally Kohlton, the 30th AVS graduate. Kohlton has grown a ton since he joined the school at the end of 8th grade. He has worked hard, done a lot of internal work and really blossomed at AVS. The transformation has been amazing and I am honored to have been witness to it.
We had a great reception, despite the fact that it had rained all week and we had initially planned for an outdoor party. The decorations were lovely and the food was just about right. I think everyone went home happy.
While this was all fun, I am especially thankful for my friend, Natalie, who showed up and was a trooper. She helped us decorate, she and her family attended graduation and both parties, and she stopped me long enough to snap this picture that I am so thankful to have. We were all so busy with the events, that I took almost no pictures. At Ethan's graduation, I did not end up in any of the photos. This time I was determined to have one taken with Ellie and I, and Natalie made that happen. She is the very model of what a best friend is.

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