Do you remember high school graduation? Do you remember what you were feeling that day? Were you starry eyed, full of laughter, excess bravado and big dreams?

I know I was. I was sixteen and ready to take on the world.

Aaah, those were the days, weren’t they?

Last Thursday I attended my cousin’s graduation and what a joyful experience!


This is one of five high schools in our little town and it was quite a sizable class. I keep forgetting that our little town is probably not that little anymore.

These kids were full of whoops and hollers, lots of cheering, laughter and smiles so big we could feel them all the way over in the bleachers. Instead of clapping they all raised their arms and waved their hands while woohooing. There was much hand waving and woohooing.


The four student speakers gave speeches that brought tears to your eyes. Their speeches were filled with hope and promise. They are so excited about their futures, excited about looking forward and tackling whatever may come towards them. Their speeches were filled with metaphors and grand philosophies.

One young man, the Student of the Year, talked about his greatest lessons learned—from his dad, his inspiration. Sniffle. It was so touching.

There was much woohooing and probably a little boohooing.


Here in the bleachers were all the parents, family and friends. There may have been more woohooing going on here than on the field. Families whooped and whistled, blew horns and waved banners. I was actually good naturedly admonished by my neighbor for not being loud enough when our teen was announced. I had no idea I was supposed to bring all kinds of noise-making paraphernalia to graduation. My friend Erika called in the middle of graduation and she thought I was at a concert it was so loud.

Finally, after nine hours of calling names, shaking hands, receiving diplomas, pausing for photos, moving their tassles from right to left (or is it left to right) and tossing their caps in the air, it was over. Phew.

Next we attempted to reconnect with our teen, which frankly, was no easy feat. We were like ants crawling all over each other trying to find one another. Hello? Hello? Are you related to me?


There were teens everywhere on their cell phones.


“Mom, where are you?”


“Dad, I’m here under the basketball hoop. Where are you?”


Finally, after three phone calls, we caught up with my cousin, Viet.

He’s an inspiration. Three years ago he came to the U.S. not knowing a lick of English. He was thrown into high school and expected to survive (they call this “immersion”).

Three years later he graduated fluent in English, with a 3.2GPA and a boatload of friends. He’ll be going to college in the fall to begin a path towards engineering.


He was so proud and happy, but he had those funny teenage hangups. He was totally embarrassed by all the flowers and bouquets we had for him, he refused to carry ’em. We had a lei for him. Nope, not interested. We had a big bouquet of roses for him. Nope, nuh uh. We had balloons for him. That got a big eye roll and a “Mooooommm!” We had to laugh at his teenage angst.

Here he is with his mom, my cousin Kim, who is one of the sweetest people on the planet. She was so proud of him.


No matter what I did he smiled with his lips clamped shut. I think it was all those years of wearing braces; he just wouldn’t show me any teeth!


Finally, I got him to smile when I threatened to flash him. Why he thought that was funny I’ll never know.

But he smiled. 🙂

Aah, high school graduation. It’s a beautiful thing.


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