Needless to say, both of our 2007 Graduates put the parents through some hoops before they made it.
Their theory must be something like: “if they can spend their lives putting us through hoops, every so often we need to show them what it’s like!”
No complaints. Children deserve and need to get even in some way as they pass through adolescence. That’s life. The parents did the same thing: we just try not to talk about it, or even remember it! Above is Alban showing off his diploma with Daphné, and below Tom showing off his with his dad, Nick, Marie-Hélène and Daphné.
These two graduations did provoke reflection on a question that has preoccupied us. Why is normal adolescent behavior having increasingly adverse consequences for the adolescent? Is the goal to require lack of spirit as a condition to growing up? From where we stand, it’s not a crime to be young and a bit wild from time to time, so long as no-one gets hurt.
As this is a public place, we will not go into detail about this one family’s experiences in the domain. Suffice it to say that we are relatively normal, as are our adolescents. We have a few more adolescents than other families, but that’s the only real difference. They have
our genes, of course, but although in our day the parents did almost the same things that our children do, we always got away with it, perhaps with some sort of warning. Times have changed.
Alban terminated his High School graduation requirements in an independent program mixing credits from Cabrillo College with others from an alternative High School. His graduation was by far the most consequential that we have seen here.
Only 17 students graduated, and each was personally congratulated by one of
his teachers. Alban had not been in the program very long, and so there
was not a lot for his teacher to say. But he did recount (photo above) having run into
Alban on the beach the day before, with Alban accompanied by 8 or 10 of his
buddies. Alban stopped and talked with him, said the teacher, at length, even
though that was certainly not a cool thing to do in front of his buddies. On the
right, Alban acknowledges his personal tribute.
Way to go, kiddo! Keeping the doors open to all sorts of different people is
much more important than being cool.
Each teacher appeared to carefully and accurately compliment their graduates
on their strengths, just as Alban was complimented, and each of those teachers
is clearly a hero/ine. Many of their charges had faced definite challenges, and yet
each had graduated and was moved by the life transition that it portended. This
graduation ceremony reflected what is best in local education.
Two days later Tom graduated from Harbor High School, where Daphné had graduated two years before. What was it that John Steinbeck wrote about
society cocktail parties: something like “as spontaneous as peristalsis and
about as interesting as its end product?”
But that’s going a little far for this graduation, because the students had
fun and there were indeed some interesting anecdotes.
When there are 250 graduates, with all the friends and family, organization
cannot be the easiest facet of the proceedings. But does there need to be strict
separation of the graduating class and those on the stage on the football field
from all others (parents, family, friends, all the fans) in the stands? It doesn’t help the atmosphere, and events like
graduation need their atmosphere.
Chrystie, Tom’s Grandmother, is 74 and braved the holiday traffic over the
hill from Palo Alto. She ended up sitting behind the stage watching the
speechifying with her son Gary, Tom’s Uncle and Godfather. We glimpsed Tom
receiving his diploma from a distance (above right), still small in the telephoto lens.
Contrast that with Alban receiving his diploma (left), from one of his teachers,
surrounded by his classmates, teachers and administrators. Small is beautiful.
Each of Alban’s fellow graduates had the opportunity to speak, and without
exception each thanked others there, some at embarrassing lengths. One of the
few students speaking at Tom’s graduation expressed his appreciation for the
fact that he would never have to live under the incoming Principal, who had only
been an Assistant during that student’s tenure! Let’s hope that the incoming
Principal listened, because if one of the stars of this graduating class (and at
Harbor only star students spoke) had that to say about him, he needs to work on something.
Another Harbor student speaker, one of five valedictorians (count ’em!) sang
the praises of competition, and opined that at his 20th reunion there would be
many BMWs and Mercedes in the parking lot, with his own Bentley up front.
Ouch! Of course, there were more charming speeches and anecdotes, but the
conjunction of our two 2007 graduations left us with the feeling that
alternative education was way ahead of the pack.
Back to our graduates, who did not care about any of these musings. What they
cared about was that they had made it through, and are on their way. We’re very
proud of you both.
On the left, Tom with his Uncle Gary at Vasili’s Greek Restaurant during
dinner after his graduation. Alban’s graduation was at lunchtime, he was with
friends after it and the family was rushing around with the normal mid-week
commitments (like work!). So we did not have a meal with him until Father’s Day
on the following Sunday. On the right here he is thanking those who helped him
get there, even the parents!
Our four older children have now all graduated High School. The earlier graduations are here.
2007 also saw Charlie completing his elementary education after seven happy years at Happy Valley School.