Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Graduates 2012

It's the end of the world, as we know it.

One home, two high school graduates... let's do this thing!

Something like an actual graduation ceremony, this post will be long, personal, emotional, serious, fraught with meaning and symbolism, and unless you know anyone graduating, it will be more than you ever want to see or know about people leaving high school... otherwise it will be epic!!

Courted by art schools, accepted by Cal Poly Pomona and Humboldt. Making his own way, at UCP. Recognized for achievement in science, wearing engineering cords for four years in robotics. Founder and president of "Art and Engineering" club. Treasurer of Sky Consortium. Cap and gown Tron-ed.

Accepted to Cal Arts, Humboldt. Courted by many more. Making her own way, at UCP, because community college is the smart way to go! Wearing her cords for four years as robotics kid, president of marketing for one two years! Recognized for achievement in art, and all around awesomeness. Suki is the spirit of SDA. Cap and gown blinged, 'cause Suki is shiny.

They are their awesome selves, in an awesome school, ranked #402 in the country and awarded a gold medal by US news and World Report. Their robotics team has been to championships three times, built one of the fastest mini-bots, and been awarded Engineering Inspiration, and Spirit recognition, in multiple regional competitions. They are a credit to Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Music, and Math. uh-oh... I know. I'm gushing. No apologies. It's my blog. They make me proud and loud.

I just wanna tell it like it is, the good stuff, before they say Bye. You don't have to move away to be moving on.

Okay, but wait. Before any So Cal kid can officially graduate... burritos. The Justin Burrito, particularly. And I would like to add my apologies to any homesick Encinitans who cannot be here, enjoying their own burrito. Lo siento, amigos.

Alex, Max, and William

We load 'em up, and head out.

And we arrive really, really early. But, it's open seating and everyone comes to graduation. It's a party in the grandstands, on the field, all night. So, early is a good thing.

Andrea and Amy, come to see all their sisters and brothers graduate. They are loud and proud, too!

This evokes some of the best memories of being a part of the Paradox family.

Maria and Tutu, reading Maria's book, ready to pass the time until the show begins.

Sammay and Amy, and more good memories of robotics.

William, Max, James, Bambi... scholars and artists, all.

Grant, Suki, Sammay, and Nate... all these great photo ops. No regrets about our early arrival.

Nick. Uhm... I sort of know Nick. I sort of know a lot of these grads, because of robotics and parties, and FB, and school events. And, well, seeing them in their caps and gowns... oh, here comes the emotional part, and I start taking everyone's picture, and tearing up over them, two weeks later... Sorry, Nick. You don't know me. I'm a parent, loud, proud, and I blog. It's compulsive. You look good, by the way. Love the winged horse of academic magic.

Hello, Claire, future chairwoman of all things possible.

Alex, Elio, and Claire. This class has class.

And now, a word from our sponsor: Remember to pick up a cold and spicy tub of guacamole, with your crisp and flavorful El Nopalito corn chips. I also packed juice, water, cheese and apples. Que bueno, amigos.

Ah, but I didn't think of flowers, or silly string. Amy and Andrea were seriously organized. I'm taking notes. The class of 2013 will be a cannot miss graduation.

Matt and Grant. More friends, alumni, artists and scholars.

Myron and Sandy. Let's see... Andy graduated last year, and Olivia is still coming up, so, yeah... they're here for the Paradox family! It made me happy to be with such a big bunch of friends, and family. Sure, now I am gushing and full of sentiment, but going in, I did not realize how emotional and heart touching this day would be. Every familiar face, seeing these students cross over and out of high school, and all the shared joy made me feel really blessed.
First on the field, the teachers of SDA, with Stimson on the far left... he's got his camera!

Have you noticed? This is not a typical graduation? True, that. The students carry their robes into the staging area, so they can prove they are wearing clothing beneath. Otherwise, they are free to enhance their robes and caps with style statements. They choose who they will sit with... no alphabetical order, here. While we waited for them to come in, we listened to pre-recorded thank you messages from graduates. And there are no speeches... no guest lectures, no "celebrity moments." Each student wrote something, about twenty words, and their messages are read, or sung by their counselors, as they walk up to shake hands with their principal. Every message is different. Some are sentimental, others are hilarious. There are poems, quotes, songs, pop references, inside jokes, and little bios. It's all personal. It's all good.

One cool thing about a Tron gown... it is highly visible, even from far away. I spy Alex, getting his picture taken by Stimson. And I can still hear Maria, sitting beside me, on her daddy's lap, cheering wildly!

And I see Tots... she's number five, and covered in well earned academic cords. Tots-Tatiana is full of S.T.E.A.M.M.

From this angle, the Mustangs look like unicorns. Fitting, somehow.

Great view. I see Tots. I see Elio, Isaac ML, and Alex!

Maria sees them, too!

Here come Nate, Sammay, Suki, Annie... all of 'em!

They're selling a video. Should I buy the video? I can't remember all their speeches, and a lot of them were really good. I wish I could remember them. Guess I should buy the video. Who says "video" any more? Gad. DVD. Duh.

Mom, here comes Alex. He listed twenty defining things about himself. I remember "robots" and "electromagnetism." I remember feeling elated, cheering, wishing I had a zoom lens.

A zoom lens and photographic memory, and a time machine, because time moves too fast, too wibbly wobbly, and I just want to be his mommy, and watch him grow up, all over again.

Remember about the gown check, and making sure everyone was dressed? Well, you can make rules, and monitor things, but sometimes people figure out a way to be their true selves... and if you see these two at the beach, they will be in Speedos.
Seen, June 15, 2012... not far from the beach.

A wave, then a double wave. Here comes Suki!

I feel a wave of emotions.

Every graduate carried a birthday candle, and handed it to the principal. It's random. It's SDA. He has over three hundred birthday candles now.

The field is full of graduates and happy families. We stayed long enough to take three pictures, then home!

It only took four hours... two waiting, two celebrating.

Alex, his diploma, and family.

A good day.

Bobbie, Suki, Ruth, and Darrahl

Home again, relaxing with friends and family, enjoying good food, recalling the best of high school, and moving forward. A very good day.


Janece said...

I only know Alex and Suki (and not nearly as well as I'd love to) and the tears are streaming. Beautiful work Natalie! Thank you for sharing the day with us and your gorgeous photos capturing these beautiful people! They fill me with hope and inspiration!!

warren said...

Awww shucks...this is so cool! Congrats to everyone. I almost didn't recognize Suki...I thought she was a natural blue...the blonde threw me off.

Anyhow, I am sure this is an exciting and scary time but you have all done yourselves proud in raising great kids and getting them all growed-up right! (that's more WV accent training for Maria)

ArtyZen said...

Wonderful day - heavens, I'M proud and they're not my children!! Well done everyone. You look so diddy with your three great sons, towering above you!! Soon Maria will have overtaken you too... how they grow! (You could also be mistaken for a sister, Natalie!) Loved seeing you all together - my unknown adopted transatlantic family - love you. Axxxx

Jennifer said...

All this awesomeness, AND El Nopalito chips. Does seem too good to be true. But seriously, we love the customized gowns, the 20 words, the joy and the accomplishment. The getting used to the idea of the intense dose of time passing, celebrated it such a huge milestone moment, is another thing altogether. Our love and praise and delight to the grads and to the family that celebrates ~~~

Kim said...

That was a great tribute to the Graduates! Congratulations you two!

nikkipolani said...

Proud proud proud moments, Natalie! I almost didn't recognize Suki without her blue hair ;-) And I guess I didn't realize how tall Alex had gotten until I saw him next to you. Congrats all around!

test said...

You are not kidding about it being a long Blog entry, and I did get the flavor, Congratulations to Alex, Suki and you whole family and especially you MOM, you are the greatest.

aka Jules said...

sometimes sitting through a graduation can be painful. I sat -- i mean, read through this one and it was anything but painful. though i felt a tinge at my heart as my little boy turned 2 this week. I know all too well how fast the next 15 will be. hugs and congrats! well done mama!!

Jenny said...

So wonderful Natalie! I loved looking through these photos and hearing your joy. Wishing them happy adventures in life.