"So, how was graduation?" my friend Kaly asked me.
"It was good," I said. "The weather was perfect. Beautiful, really."
"Huh," she said. "That's the nicest thing anyone's ever said about a graduation. I was expecting you to say long and boring! Good, perfect, and beautiful aren't words someone usually uses to describe a graduation."
Perhaps that's true, but the most recent graduation I attended was Andrew's PhD ceremony and although that was also a good, beautiful, proud day it was also hot, long, and boring. Compared to that Piper's graduation was a walk in the park...literally.
École Secondaire Highwood High School traditionally holds their graduation at George Lane Park and the graduands (not a typo (rather it is the intermediary status of having completed the requirements for your degree but have yet to be awarded the degree (and it's typically only used in the Commonwealth))) marched to the park from downtown.
The day started out a little chilly, but soon warmed up to a tolerable 16°C/60°F (much nicer than the 33°C/92°F on the day of Andrew's graduation). Here are a few shots of everyone waiting for the ceremony to begin...
Auntie Josie let Zoë play some games on her phone (so Josie's the new favourite):
Uncle Patrick looks thrilled to have the full cuddliest, wriggliest seat companion ever to have lived:
You can see my mom in the foreground of this picture, reading over the graduation program...which is a single piece of paper. You want to talk about a long graduation? A long graduation is when they publish the students' names in a book. A book of names makes for a long ceremony. A page of names is completely tolerable.
I didn't take a copy of the paper (or even a picture of the paper), but I do know there was one aboriginal student who graduated this year so they had a representative from her tribe present her with a blanket. I'm pretty sure they read this quote verbatim before they presented the blanket,
"To give a blanket is to demonstrate great respect, honor and admiration for an individual. When receiving a blanket as a gift, the giver holds the individual in very high respects for their generosity and accomplishments. It is believed that receiving a blanket will bring good dreams and prosperity.
When a blanket is placed on an individual, it is like wrapping the respect and admiration of everyone in the community around them physically and spiritually."A random online presentation is the only source I can find for that quote, which just seems like an interesting place to pull a quote from, but that's okay. It was an interesting tradition to learn about (Patrick told me that when Deklan graduated (last year) about half the class (of, you know, like 20) were aboriginal so there were a lot of blankets handed out). I also thought it was neat that as emcee opened the ceremony he expressed gratitude and recognition that we were on a piece of indigenous land. He mentioned the actual tribe, but I can't remember, though I'm assuming it was one of the bands of the Blackfoot Confederacy.
George Lane donated the land to the town (in lieu of paying taxes), to provide a park for the town's children to enjoy, so we're grateful to him, too, but it's nice to remember how the land was initially obtained (ie. by force).
Here's Piper walking through the gazebo to find her place on the stand:
And here she is, having found her place on the stand (the blonde one with the red lips):
Here she is going up to receive her diploma:
I'll admit that the siren song of the playground was a little too much for Benjamin, so Uncle Patrick took him over there so he could burn off some energy (luckily Piper's last name begins with a B so she was quite near the beginning of the program). Everyone else stuck around to the end.
But not at graduation. Oh, no.
He was honking up a storm at graduation. My mom was laughing so hard she could hardly contain herself. It was so loud that people were turning around to stare so I did just as my aunt once advised me to do* and kind of looked around as well. Like, "Where is that awful racket coming from?! Not from the innocent baby, asleep under this nursing cover! Surely not him. What could it be?!"
* I honestly can't remember if it was Auntie Arlene or Auntie Colleen who told me. If it was Auntie Arlene, she was telling this story about herself. If it was Auntie Colleen it was either about herself or about Auntie Arlene. It seems very much like something Auntie Arlene would do.
Anyway, one day she did an embarrassingly massive toot in class and everyone turned to stare at whoever emitted such an impressive (and disgusting) sound. She knew she was the guilty party, but cooly turned around in her chair with the rest of the class and said something about, "How gross!" to the person behind her.
I didn't know what else to do because mouthing the words, "It's okay. He has an airway defect!" hasn't ever worked out too well in the past. So we just played up our innocence.
Hopefully he didn't distract too many people.
After graduation Benjamin leapt at the chance to help fold up chairs while the rest of us hugged and congratulated Piper.
Here's Malachi and Abra giving her a hug:
And here she is getting a hug from her Aunt Kathi:
For some reason Malachi ended up lying on the ground like this...I'm not sure why...
Here's Piper with her brothers and mother:
And here's our crew:
As you can see, Josie is holding Alexander—and he's tolerating it! He'd just woken up from his nap and seemed to be a little confused by our outfits. Josie and I were totally twinning it at graduation—completely by accident! We're both in blue shirts with white dots and he was just like, "Cool, I guess this is my mom."
But then Josie handed Alexander to Piper, hoping that we could sneak in a picture of the two of them together before he was really alert. It worked.
That is, it worked until he looked up at Piper, and then...
...he broke. He went back to Auntie Josie but wasn't quite as satisfied as before.
Here are a few pictures of my nephews messing around with Piper's graduation cap:
I can't imagine how long it took to glitter that cap!
Here's Piper with her cousin McCall:
And here's what McCall did when he was told to act like he liked Piper:
Here's Piper, Shelby, and McCall:
And here are the boys lifting Piper (Malachi, Quintin, McCall, and Deklan):
Alexander was rather interested in Piper's graduation rose. Here he is giving it a sniff/lick:
Here's another try of a group picture, after Piper turned in her robe:
We really aren't great at getting everyone to look at the camera, but I figure that if we just keep snapping pictures eventually we'll get a good one. And apparently we were going for a girls' side/boys' side kind of a thing...
I was beyond thrilled to get a picture of Abra with all of her kids! An updated photograph was more than overdue. Aren't they just so sweet together?
I know Abra probably won't like this picture of herself, but I love it. I think the adoration she feels for her children is just radiating off her in the picture.
This next one is good, too, though it might not make it on the wall...
Here's Benjamin hanging out with his big cousins:
After we'd taken all the pictures anyone could stand, we walked over to Mr. Mike's (where Abra is assistant manager) for lunch. When we'd all eaten, Abra brought out a beautiful Alice in Wonderland cake for Piper.
It was a beautiful day and we're all so proud of Piper!