Monday, July 20, 2009

The Girl Graduates!

Aron Academy Homeschool held its graduation ceremony and party this past Sunday in our backyard. It was a lovely day - we had about 50 friends and family in attendance to congratulate the girl and give her a big send-off to college.

Here was the speech that I gave (minus some tears and wavering voice):
On behalf of our family I want to welcome all of you and thank you all for sharing this graduation celebration with us. We celebrate this milestone for Rachel because it marks an end and a beginning. As my youngest stands before us all as a high school and homeschool graduate, I can't help but have some thoughts to share.

After homeschooling our three kids during the past 12 years, I have to say that it certainly has been a wonderful experience for our family. Our kids have thrived and have created their own successes. When it comes to academics, my husband and I have served more as facilitators than instructors. Our children have learned to work, think and live on their own. They have become independent and goal driven. More importantly, they have developed into fine people, with a wonderful circle of friends and family. They did not do this by merely sitting around the kitchen table doing lessons.

We have had a wonderful 12 years homeschooling; we wish we had started sooner with our older children. It was a journey that we are all glad that we took, and that we had the courage to take despite the disparaging remarks and noise from others along the way. We learned to tune out that noise, and we are ever so thankful that we had the freedom to do so. To the homeschoolers in this gathering, a special thank you to you for helping to keep homeschooling free and legal in the state of Connecticut.

People have been reminding me lately how Mike and I are going to be “empty nesters”. I don’t like that term much. First of all – I know that they always come back at one time or another. But honestly, going out on their own is what we raised them to do. So I prefer to think of us as “successful parents”.

I have to say that it isn’t so much that it takes a village to raise a child, but rather that the world has been, and continues to be, this child’s classroom - and you have all been a part of Rachel’s education in one way shape or form. I appreciate from the bottom of my heart all that all of you here assembled today have contributed to the growth and education of this young lady that we now honor and congratulate. She is who she is because of what we all have given her in the way of opportunity, encouragement, constructive criticism, advice and friendship, but it is Rachel alone who openly allowed herself to take everything in and to become the person that she is. She is to be commended for that. She has taken bits of all of us and included them into what makes her who she is.

I am very proud of Rachel – she has worked very hard - and while she may tell you that she doesn’t think she learned much in certain subjects, I think she underestimates what it is that she does know and how much she has accomplished. Sure, I am her mom and I think the world of her – but as her teacher I can tell you that she has accomplished a lot for a young person.

From producing her own cable TV shows, starting her own music production company, working part time and taking college courses and doing volunteer work, she has shown herself in many instances to be a leader, to trust in herself and to know herself. She has shown that she can set goals and follow them through, and be able to do so while being open to input from others and weighing options. She is willing to take on responsibility and she is willing to deal with the consequences of her actions. These are all elements of maturity. The lessons she has learned academically and in life will serve her well.

All of her endeavors thus far have provided her with experiences that she will draw upon as she goes off to college to the University of New Haven in the fall, and we know that her college plans will be challenging and satisfying.

Best of Luck and Congratulations Rachel! You did it!

Her father and brothers offered speeches as did our friend and West Hartford Town Councilor Joe Visconti. NHELD Executive Director Deborah Stevenson also spoke and also presented the girl with a certificate of recognition honoring her academic achievements. The graduate also gave a speech.

Afterwards it was party time - food and beverage and all around good times. The girl's many friends stayed till late into the evening - so much for socialization!

Here are more photos:

Related post - Homeschool Reflections