I get to school at 9am. Parents are lining up in front of of the auditorium to get good seats. I get the microphones for the soloists in Choir and take them upstairs to reserve 12 seats for the underclassmen Choir members and 2 for Justina and Erin. On my way upstairs, I run into two senior Choir members. Quick hugs are given and I make them promise to say goodbye before the end of the day.
I save seats up in the balcony and wait for the underclassmen and my friends to arrive. The doors open and parents begin to rush in claiming seats as close to the front as possible. My Choir kiddos are busy signing yearbooks and chatting with each other and I make sure I have enough tissues for when the waterworks begin. Olivia has promised to bring me a box of tissues. She forgets and instead goes and brings me an entire roll of toilet paper from the bathroom.
Choir is to sing as soon as the commencement address is read. Funny, I remember the one at my grad being forever long. The speaker this year was short, sweet, and to the point. The next thing I know, I'm lining my kids up on the stairs to get ready to walk up to the risers and meet the senior Choir members. In my haste, I've forgotten to grab the sheet music to conduct with so I know I"ll just have to wing it. In her haste, Maddie trips and falls backwards on the risers to be caught by Olivia. She didn't know it, but she saved me from bursting into tears like I was about to do when I looked up and saw my seniors lined up ready to sing.
I decide that this year I won't look at them while we sing. It is much easier to focus on the underclassmen. Occasionally, I look up and smile at Joey or Lizi or Carl but for the most part, I have a great poker face going. They sing "Beautiful Day" flawlessly and end with lots of applause from the audience. I make my way back upstairs and immediately begin to cry into the toilet paper.
Soon after, their names are called for grad recognition. There are a great number of students this year that have impacted this teacher and probably have no idea just exactly how much. It takes about an hour to read through the 80-something names of students. At the end, they proudly throw their hats in the air.
We all make our way outside for goodbyes (those who aren't going to the reception anyway) and the tears begin to flow once more. Jack cries into my shoulder, Jaser bear hugs me, Elizabeth hugs me tight. It's all surreal. How will I not see these sweet faces come Fall?
After some time, I decide I can't really take it any more and need to go upstairs to the reception. Thankfully I sit with Erin and Justina and the Kruses and Stemples. There's lots of talking that keeps me distracted from knowing that I'm going to have to say goodbye for good in a little while. We eat sandwiches and salads and Jack, Jordan, Roger, and a few other kids sign my yearbook.
After milling around for a while, we're called to gather in groups and pray over graduates. The Gasters, Ahna, Justina, and I get to pray with Roger, which is pretty cool. After the prayer is done, I walk around to make the final goodbyes. There are lots of hugs going on at this point and after making sure I'd said goodbye to all of my kids, I take one last look around the gym before taking my exit.
Grad is over and I no longer have those seniors as students. They are now college freshmen off to find new adventures of their own.