William Tennant graduation, June 4, 1981. Top row, second from the left is Debby Kevin.
In three days, my eldest son graduates from Calvert Hall College High School here in Baltimore, Maryland exactly 35 years to the day that I walked across William Tennant‘s football field in Warminster, Pennsylvania, to accept my diploma. I’m proud of my son’s accomplishments and know the pomp and circumstance on Saturday will be bittersweet. He’s on to a new chapter in his life, ready to spread his wings and soar.
We’ve been invited to several graduation parties and have opted to postpone our celebration until summer’s end when we’ll pull together our friends – his and mine – to wish all the kids success in college. From now until then, I want to celebrate each milestone and lean into my feelings, but I know myself well: these months won’t be easy. There will be laughter and tears, sometimes intermingled.
I’ve been giving a lot of thought to how to make sure the photographs taken accompany the stories the kids have — while they’re all together. Because experience tells me sometimes high school friendships fade in importance as one grows into oneself, moves away, and becomes involved in other activities. The moments to capture memories while they’re fresh won’t come again.
So here are three ways to encourage graduates and their party guests to record memories:
Have party guests write on index cards their words of wisdom for the graduate. Post suggestions like “how to succeed in college,” or “funniest ways to get ahead in life.” Set up a video camera and invite guests to read their cards. (An alternative is to use just your smartphone to record.)
Ask classmates to share a funny story from one of their high school years. Video or audio tape them sharing. Your best bet for getting great stories is if the kids are gathered informally around a bonfire or similar grouping where they’re relaxed and laughing – one story will naturally lead to another.
Set a journal by the front door and ask guests to leave their thoughts, wishes, and words of wisdom for the graduate.
If you choose to go the video recording route, you can easily edit your footage via iMovie or a similar program before burning it to a DVD and saving it to YouTube or Vimeo for sharing.
These are my three suggestions, what are yours? Post in the comments below and let’s get ready to celebrate.