Monday, May 23, 2011

Living Science Graduation

In a service heavy on ceremony and meaning, Living Science graduated their largest-ever class this past Saturday. All twenty seniors played a role, as well as several members of the junior class. Some of my memory is sketchy, but here’s some of the details…

The nine speakers all shared personal stories, most of which involved facing and overcoming difficult circumstances.

1. Kat: Her tough decision to choose ZooAtlanta over Servant Leader team.

2. Caleb: Thanked several teachers. Explained why he was thankful he didn’t get a “normal” education.

3. Joel: Asked whose voice has never cracked while delivering a science presentation? Perhaps not as much as Will. Perhaps it never happened to Gerald. Recounted Caleb drinking the energy drink in “Mr. Murphy’s car” on the return trip from 9th grade Senior Retreat, and getting his shirt ripped just before senior pictures were taken. NOTE: While I’ll always remember young Caleb’s antics on that fateful trip, even more will I remember the fine young man he’s grown into.

4. Joanna: Clearly explaining why she loves her mother, the D’s, Mrs. Delenick, and her fellow Servant Leaders, in detail, while using a Dr. Seuss theme. Hopefully Mrs. Delenick missed her “or ONLY an English teacher” remark.

5. Will: His first LS work day with Ro lamb, wanting to be like Servant Leader Ben Hoffer, teaching younger kids, with a “life is like a box of chocolates” theme. I hadn’t read Will’s speech in advance (almost on purpose) nor had I helped him with it…but he did a great job.

6. Kara: How physical issues led to her college major choice. Individually thanked each family member, listing reasons she loved them.

7. Christy: Memories from taking classes at the D’s house, taking 6th grade three times, spending 55 days on Jekyll expeditions through the years. Going into detail when thanking her mom.

8. Kevin: Spoke of family, and being the nerdy kid (my mind just went blank!).

9. Alyssa: Scared on first day, thanking those who helped get her to where she is.

Gerald played piano, and then received a standing ovation, led by his classmates. Alex played violin with her brother. Frances played piano. Good thing Alex and Frances performed BEFORE Gerald. As good as they did, Gerald’s typically excellent performance completed overshadowed them (though not on purpose).

Amber spoke about the banners that her mother made, officially bequeathing them to Living Science. The senor class paraded the banners in, and handed them off to members to the junior class, who walked them off. Pierce read a Bible verse. Jacob and Connor prayed.

Junior Matthew Ellis shared how the seniors never let the juniors feel inferior. Scott Donehoo delivered an eloquent benediction. Haley helped Mrs. D pass out the medals. Can’t remember what Tia did, but she was up on the stage. Jordan and Chase carried banners, at the least.

Sarah had the tough task of introducing the esteemed speaker, and did a great job. Having never attended a Living Science graduation, I girded myself for a dry scientific speech emblematic of Living Science at its most scientific, similar to the technical commencement address I vaguely recall from my own Georgia Tech graduation almost thirty years ago. But esteemed Answers in Genesis scientist Georgia Purdom opened with the Biblical passage of Mary anointing Jesus’ feet with expensive oil, how the disciples and others perceived it as wasteful, concluding that decisions we should be making as Christ-followers will be similarly scorned in current times. For her, working at AIG means she’ll never be able to publish, work, or teach in the “real” scientific community again.

Each girl who walked up the stairs was helped by a guy. This led to a few humorous moments, like when Pierce helped one girl down on one side of the stage, then hustled over to the other side, to help the other girl up. Joel added a King Louis flourish.

After each student was individually congratulated by Mr and Mrs. D, they received their Living Science certificate. Then they met their parents in the center of the stage to receive their diploma, and pose for a picture. This also led to light-heartedness: Mr. Massey had pasted a huge “YEA!” message on Sarah’s diploma. Joel awkwardly greeted his mother…then gave her a huge hug. Then he forgot about the picture. Jordan crossed her legs, showing off her black high-tops. As I escorted Ceil up the stairs, I asked Kevin if I was doing it correctly.

After their parents escorted them in, the graduates processed out by themselves. They went outside and tossed their caps high into the air. It was a fun time of picture taking and fellowship that lasted until Haley Hurt ran everyone out. The room was filled with photograph boards of the graduates. Kara brought her ugly basketball sneakers. Sarah’s snapshots were clothes-pinned to a small tree. Kevin had some baseball action shots. Both Joel and Will included the same “first day at Living Science” photo they’d made in 2005. Later they posed with Mrs. D for the same shot, six years hence.

The after party at the property included plenty of great food, dessert, and beverages. Dr. Purdom was sitting with Julie Smith and my in-laws, so I joined them. Georgia turned out to be quite “normal.” Not as much AIG talk as I had desired. The Hurts, Mrs. Gilbert, and Elin joined us, making for a delightful dinner. There were so many people I wanted to visit with, but I really only got to speak with a few.

Alumni returned to capture the volleyball crown: Ben, Isaac, Heidi, DJ, David, Kelly, and Jos. They were cheered on by Amanda, Libby, Charissa, Christiana, Amanda, Lisa, Maggie, the Switzers, Lynn Bailey, and others. Their victory came over the “stacked” team of seniors: Kevin, Joel, Alyssa, Will, and Kara. The team with Kyle, Andrew, Connor, and Charles all had something in common. Margaret and Emily thought they struck gold with a team that included their parents. Even after Denise jumped ship, the teens’ inexperience proved fatal.

A whole other bunch of upperclassmen played ultimate, and younger students (like my two) found other things to do. It took darkness to finally break up the evening.

No comments: