Monday, May 18, 2015

Veritas Graduation

Friday I worked eight hours then rushed home. Anna had to be at FBC Alpharetta at 6:45 and Ceil wanted to eat dinner at El Felix. With Friday afternoon traffic getting to the usually crowded restaurant (that doesn't take reservations), I didn't know if that was possible. We got dressed and made good time on the new Westside Parkway. Such is my life, constantly rushing from one event to the next. Some people don't understand. We were seated immediately and the food came out quickly. El Felix is a fancy Mexican restaurant and the food is ok, but I'd just as soon eat Mexican at Nuevo Laredo or El Porton or Jaliscos where the salsa is better tasting and less fancy. We all made it to the church with plenty of time to spare.
The Veritas graduation wasn't just for Anna's Alpharetta campus but also all the other campuses scattered around metro Atlanta. In all there were over 30 graduates, making for a big crowd. Knowing this I positioned myself near the far door in the crowded, stuffy vestibule. When the doors finally opened at seven the mad dash for seats ensued. Even though I was right by the door the seats I secured were 11 or 12 rows back (there weren't 20 rows in the whole place). The Hargreaves sat behind us and the Waltons were forced to sit in the balcony. Andrew's parents arrived later and also sat in the balcony.
The ceremony was pretty standard: opening comments from the principal, then two worships songs. Students were on stage playing the music but tow old people (my age) came out to lead the singing and sing special music. You would've thought some of the graduates or underclassmen could've been drafted - that's what they do at Matthew's school and Will's old school. The graduated paraded in. The speech was given by State Court Judge Melton, whose kids attend another campus. An engaging speech. For some reason no student valedictorian gave a speech.

When each graduate came forward, the parents walked onstage to accept the diploma to present to their child. It was interesting to see each family dynamic: the hugs, handshakes, where everyone stood. Emily's mom knocked off her daughter's mortarboard, then helped her put it back on. Would've been hilarious if her father had then knocked off the cap again, but he didn't. Most of the applause was polite with the exception of one family who cheered like LeBron James had just thrown down a breakaway dunk. I whispered to Matthew that it must be the family's first graduate. I'd had of several other hilarious comments but kept most to myself, since the strangers in front of me her within hearing distance. But behind me I could hear all the funny quips Robert Hargreaves was telling Trina.

The sequence: the master of ceremonies (a male teacher) would call out each graduates' name, then step to the side. The student's senior picture would be displayed, along with their college they'd be attending and a favorite Bible verse (one student's photo appeared to be a selfie. One boy sat on a skateboard. This got Matthew thinking of possible poses). The student would walk onstage and invariably have to wait on their parents to arrive from their seats. Mom and dad would then take turns shaking the principal's hand, and then the principal would hand the diploma to dad. Then mom would hug their graduate, followed by dad. The diploma would usually be handed to the graduate as an afterthought, instead of being the most important event of the evening. Then the three would (sometimes awkwardly) pose for pictures. All the parents pretty much followed these same rituals.
When it came our turn Ceil and I ambled onstage, and the entire pressure-packed sequence of events went well. Will came forward and snapped some pictures, and we all returned to our seats. So out of the entire 1-1/2 hour ceremony Anna's moment lasted less than one minute. Probably best that my parents hadn't made the 12 hour round trip.

Brittany's turn was next to last. Her picture was with backwards ballcap and flannel shirt. As her parents jogged down the aisle Brittany raised her arms in triumph and moved over to greet them with huge hugs. Mom Krista (who teaches at Veritas) received the first hug, then while husband Randy's back was turned receiving his hug and the diploma from the principal Krista went over and hugged the master of ceremonies. To me it looked like she was cheating on her husband (they were just co-workers, of course).

After the ceremony everyone snaked through the church hallways to the church gym for a crowded reception. The food line was long so I chatted with two of Will's old teachers from Living Science (teachers must love to attend as many graduations as possible). Andrew's parents came over and we had a nice chat. I'd seen Claire's photos of the twins earlier graduation, so they filled me in on that. Also about the whole Disney on Ice deal where Princess Ariel was missed. Later I saw the photo where they met Ariel.

One priceless moment: during the reception I interrupted my older Facebook friend/Living Science receptionist Shirley Gentry as she spoke to Hannah, the oldest Hargreaves sister. I think the world of young Hannah, a most Godly, beautiful young woman who spent the year after high school as a foreign missionary. She had just returned home from her first year at the Moody Bible Institute. Among all the Godly young women I know Hannah ranks at or near the top. She has my upmost respect. Well little old lady Shirley saw me and grabbed my arms and told Hannah "Dave is my friend on Facebook. He says the funniest things!" Like Shirley, Hannah reads my Facebook posts. Usually a subdued but pleasant youngster, Hannah shot me a look that was priceless. I cracked up, partly from embarrassment.

That was some Hawks game on Friday night. At the reception Ceil had left her phone at the table, so Will logged on to watch the last minute of the game. We saw Paul Pierce's shot and were trying to see on the tiny screen. A crowd of boys had gathered in the corner to watch as well. I'd heard the in game 5 the last 5 points scored by Washington shouldn't have counted due to errors by the officials, so even with the Washington home crowd I figured they would go with the replay and give the game (and series) to the Hawks. 

My coworker whose husband works for the Hawks said they were out to eat Friday night with several other Hawks ticket sales employees. As soon as the game ended all their phones started buzzing with emails with people wanting to buy conference championship tickets. But the only way to get them now is to buy season tickets for next year. One person paid $16,000.00.

Ceil and I may be in the minority - we didn't invite a bunch of people to fight Friday traffic to see Anna graduate. We didn't post hundreds of pictures on Facebook of cakes and graduates posing or throwing their caps in the air. Unlike other graduations, the entire Veritas evening was relatively free of parents forcing their 18 year-olds (and the whole class) to pose for countless pictures. Instead of trying to export the evening to social media, everyone was content to live in the moment and enjoy the company of those around us. Right or wrong, for that I am thankful.

No comments: