"Hannah!" he hugged me, and Rachel ran up after him. "I'm just stealing Rachel's hug," he said with smuggy smile.
"Peter, move it. Hannah!" Rachel reclaimed her hug and Peter ran off to see some people he knew. "Its great to see you, I didn't know you would be here," I asked in delighted confusion.
She would have answered, only the crowd of people pulled me along. Someone shoved a freshly printed pamphlet into my hands: "2010 Homeschool Graduation". I tried to walk quietly as I ran to catch up with my family, scanning the sanctuary for some good seating. You see, my funeral/wedding/secretary heels are about a half-an inch to big for my feet. I solve this problem by stuffing the toes with tissue paper (shh, don't tell anyone) and if I'm not careful, i make crinkly sounds.
The sanctuary was crowded with people of all ages; friends and family of the graduates. Everyone had their best suits, skirts, dentures, shoes, and wigs on. Plus, at least one lady had their best marshmallow bag on and a extremely droopy top. I noticed tons of people I knew, tons of people i recognized without names, and tons of people I couldn't believe were related to the other people.
We eventually found a empty row just a few pews down from the stage. This afforded an almost perfect view. Not quite ideal, since a wooden alter post appeared in almost every photo, but still.
The lights flickered in warning, and the stereotype processional music began. A hush and scattered giggles fell over the crows as one by one, graduates walked down the aisle in their black robes, red sashes, and cardboard hats with the little tassel that that kept swinging in front of their noses and making them go cross eyed. About 1/3 of the way through entering graduates, the song came to an end. After a few moments of silence, it began again. Due to a uncoordinated DJ, this happened at least 3 times before they had herded every graduate into the rows of chairs behind the stage.
The ceremony began with a pastor opening in prayer and some Sir whats-his-names making mini speeches. We paid homage to some flags, then waited for the show.
Out of all 30 something homeschool graduates, two performed. One of the performers the crowd wanted more of...the other one not so much.
To the melodious sounds of Muse, a colorful grad wowed the crown with her vocals and cherry red heels, peeping out from under the black gown. The next girl wowed the crowd with the neon orange pants and retro flats now visible as she stood up with her guitar. The crowd was then again wowed not by her singing voice, but perseverance of singing the song despite the crowd's inability to hear what she was singing. Then, in its extended and possibly drug related glory, she sang:
Puff the Magic Dragon.
At her high school graduation.
After losing her voice.
Yes, it was a little painful.
Yes, it was probably written by someone on drugs.
Yes, she ended it by saying "Whatever" because she couldn't hold the note.
Yes, I will never forget that.
On to more, er, melodious subjects: it was time for the guest speakers. Now, at a regular high school graduation they speak for about 10 minutes, giving high schoolers a pep talk about the future and warning them against drugs, pregnancy, bad friends, taxes, drinking, and all of the above. You forget this is a homeschool graduation. This is what they talk about (with terrible sound system so you can't hear them in the audience barely):
~ Falling in love after high school
~Having trustworthy friends
~The evils of a certain radio station
~Saying bad words is, well, bad
~ The husband's science genius
~The wife had a odd uterus thus the miracle of their children after trying to conceive many times (This won't embarrassing AT ALL)
~The educational value of everything and anything
~The uses of good friends who will tell you if you are being stupid
~Genetic hand sweating in front of crowds
All of these subjects and more were covered in a 20-30 minute speech. Turns out, the graduates couldn't hear a thing the speakers were saying because the sound speakers were turned to the audience. Not that the audience could hear that much anyway. It was probably for the best.
Here comes the "Awww" photo taking/impressive credential graduation bit. The Grad made his way to the stage where their life goals and the list of elderly neighbors/nursing homes/soup kitchens they had worked at. Except for one guy, who's intro speech seemed to be an advertisement for Chick-Fil-A.
Finally, near the end of the line of Graduates, my brother walks onto the stage in his black dress and square hat. My mom and dad make their way to the stage, and my toddler sister Emi climbs onto the pew to get a better view. Just as the "Here's your award" hugging, picture taking, general priceless moment stuff begins, Emi leans back and topples over the back of the pew! A man behind us manages to push her back over, but the moment has passed when i look up from her mortified and tear-stained face. Oh, well. There is always college graduation, right?
In all my years, I have never seen so much hat hair as when they filed down the isle and threw their hats into the air. Curly, matted, sweaty, stringy, icky hat hair. It made for some nice, memorable photos ; )
The after party wasn't much to rave about. People awkwardly tried to make conversation with each other as they ate black icing that turned their lips and teeth black and blue. I did find out that the orange pants turned out to be a complete orange jumpsuit under the black robe. I mostly sat with my Grandma and waited for the ordeal to end, then we went to the Outback Steakhouse to celebrate. (Interesting fact: When your table is next to the restroom doors in an Australian themedrestaurant, it is rather entertaining. The doors read "Blokes" and "Sheilas" so the people pace back and forth between them, poking their heads in and trying to figure which is which. )
That was the extent of the graduation. Dress up, laugh at your siblings in dresses, eat black icing, take blackmailworthy photos and listen to Puff the Magic Dragon. Homeschoolers are special!