The Academy at Metropolitan School of the Arts honored its third graduating class in a celebration at Old Town Hall in Fairfax. The celebration marked the end of the Academy's fifth year and featured performances by the graduates and students who attend the grades 6-12 school. For more photos, go to my Facebook page here.
Currently showing posts tagged Graduation
Our last child graduated from high school today as Ben finished the online program he's been in for the past two years. Since there was no formal ceremony — just sighs of relief from parents, relatives, friends, casual acquaintances and others — I decided to post his other "graduation" photo. (Kindergarten, 2004)
Congrats, Ben! We are proud of you!
Ten graduates from the first class at the Metropolitan School of the Arts Academy participated in commencement ceremonies Friday at the Workhouse Arts Center.
Having taken pictures when the school first opened in September 2013, it was a pleasure to do so again as parents and family members celebrated the accomplishments of the class.
There were plenty of laughs, a few tears, and — befitting the performance nature of the school — a number of opportunities for the students to show off their music and acting skills. Congratulations to all!
To see more photos from the event, go to my Facebook photo album here.
Emma graduated from Lake Braddock Secondary School during a ceremony honoring 659 seniors at the Patriot Center at George Mason University. It was the first time all four of our kids have been together since Kate graduated from Mount Vernon last year, and we were fortunate to be joined by other family members (including my mom) and close friends. Congratulations to our youngest daughter!
I took pictures of you on your first day of kindergarten (top left), first grade and many other first days since. This morning, I had the chance to take a photo on your last day of high school.
Two schools, 13 years, more late nights than anyone cares to count. Your mom and I could not be prouder of you and all you have done. We can't wait to see what happens in the next chapter of your life.
Jill's cousin, Brian Hodges, received his MBA Friday from Georgetown University with his wife, Elise, son Parker and parents Gerald and Susan in attendance. Brian, Elise and Parker are moving to Chicago later this summer as he takes a position with S.C. Johnson. Congrats to Brian on this fantastic achievement!
Graduation season began this past weekend with our niece, Elisabeth, receiving her bachelor's degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. We participated in Saturday's ceremony at the School of Journalism, followed by a lovely dinner at the Carolina Inn.
Elisabeth is the second in the McFarland/Cook clan to graduate from college this year, following on the heels of Nicholas. Margaret graduates from high school later this month, followed by Emma and Ben in June. Busy time of year...
Big week/weekend/month for the Cook/McFarland families. To wit: One high school graduation (Elisabeth), one church confirmation (Katharine), two 8th graders moving onto high school (Margaret and Emma), one college freshman (Nicholas) ending his first year, and one 50th birthday (Jennifer). So, of course, we had to celebrate...
At the recent rate of travel, I can’t help but think I’ll be one of those people who wakes up in his own bed and doesn’t know where he is. It is nice, though, to be back in my bed after a whirlwind 2+ weeks.
For the past couple of months, Jill and I have pointed to this 17-day period as the one we had to “just survive.” To recap:
• June 19: Kate graduates from high school with my mom in from Texas and the McFarlands and Nicholas here from North Carolina.
• June 20: The McFarlands leave for a 25th anniversary weeklong trip to Maine.
• June 21: “Newsies” ends its two-week run in D.C. on Father’s Day. Nicholas returns to his new job and new apartment. My mom leaves, too.
• June 22: Ben leaves for Boston; Emma and Jeremiah start tech week for MSA’s “Toy Stories.”
• June 23: I leave to shoot the Graduate Management Admissions Council’s annual conference in Denver.
• June 25: Jill leaves for the ASCA conference in Phoenix.
• June 26: I get home from the GMAC conference.
• June 27: Ben catches a 6 a.m. flight from Boston to come home to see “Toy Stories.” I pick up the McFarlands in D.C. and take them to the matinee, the first of four shows scheduled this weekend. Emma packs for her three-week dance intensive in New York City.
• June 28: “Toy Stories” ends. Jeremiah returns to New York with his mom. After the tearful farewells to MSA’s seniors, Emma, Ben and I leave at 11:30 p.m. for Lower Manhattan, arriving just after 4 a.m. so she can start the dance intensive.
• June 29: Bleary eyed, I walk around the Lower East Side with my camera as Emma starts her camp. Afterward, Ben, Ginno and I meet her for a grocery/drug store run, then we leave for Boston.
• June 30: I have a business meeting in Boston, then Ginno and I watch Ben perform as Crutchie for the first time in “Newsies.” Harvey Fierstein (book), Jack Feldman (lyrics), and Jeff Calhoun (director) are in attendance. Ben nails it.
• July 1: Ginno and I head south in the early morning. I drop him off in Midtown and then head for Virginia.
• July 2: After a brief sleepover stop at home to check on Kate, who is child sitting for a family this summer, I did a quick photo shoot before leaving for North Carolina to see Nicholas and take him furniture for his new apartment. The trip takes almost seven hours, three of that to Fredericksburg 30 miles from our home.
• July 3: Nicholas and I embark on a memorable IKEA run to Charlotte, then drive back to Northern Virginia to see Jill, who returned that morning from her Phoenix conference. At the end of the evening, I drive into D.C. to pick up Emma, who is coming home for the weekend.
• July 4: Nationals game with Emma, her boyfriend James, Jill and Nicholas, followed by fireworks in D.C. with Kate. Great nap outside the National Theatre between the two events.
• July 5: Nicholas and Emma return to New York and North Carolina, respectively. I have another photo shoot with a client. Life returns to “normal,” if you can call it that.
Over those 17 days, I went to or through nine states and the District of Columbia, eight of them (plus DC) in a new car that has 2,600 miles on it after only 21 days of ownership.
To use a phrase Nicholas likes, “That, folks, is how we roll…”
My mom got here today. Nicholas and the McFarlands arrive tomorrow morning. Four days after a party for 20-25 from the Newsies cast, we're catering our second meal (Chipotle this time) for the masses in less than a week. The reason, of course, is a good one: KATE GRADUATES TOMORROW!!!
(Yes, I realize that all caps means I'm shouting in the online world. I also don't care. My daughter is graduating from high school. No matter how good the Chipotle is, the fact she did it is worth a shout out and tap dance from the rooftop, even if I have to cater out the tap dance, too.)
Kate, our oldest daughter, graduated Friday from Mount Vernon High School with her siblings, parents and grandmother in the audience. We also had a small party at home with friends and more family. Simply put, it was a day to celebrate and jump for joy.
And we got a nice family photo out of the deal, too...
In September 2002, we took our nervous daughter to her first day of kindergarten. Today, thanks to convergence of events that has left our on-the-road family short by a car, I dropped her off for the last school-related event before she graduates from Mount Vernon on Friday.
There have been times when all of us — Kate included — have wondered silently and aloud whether this journey would reach this point. And, like all kids do as they manage the rocky path of adolescence, she’s had to overcome her share of bumps in the road. But Kate has made it, and her entire family will be on hand to watch her walk across the stage in a white graduation gown in just two days.
I’m just glad I had a chance to watch her walk into school one last time.
Love you, Kate!
Our oldest, Nicholas, graduated Magna Cum Laude with a bachelor of fine arts degree Saturday from Elon University. He completed his program in four years while juggling the a capella group Vital Signs, membership in a fraternity, up to three part-time jobs, a long-term girlfriend and two full-time families, who joined with him in the celebration.
Sometimes it takes a little while for things to hit me. I usually prefer to keep a respectful distance between my emotions and the rest of my daily life.
Occasionally, however, I get blindsided at the most unusual times for reasons I rarely understand at the moment. When I do, it feels being hit by the wave you see in the opening credits to “Hawaii Five-O” (original, remake, and Emma’s TV show of the season).
That happened this past weekend, another you can file under the familial "One to Remember" category. Fracturing the time line, let’s start with Monday afternoon, when I went to the pool near our house.
Memorial Day is the ceremonial start of summer in Northern Virginia, the time when the various suburban HOAs decide it’s finally time to open the community pools. Freezing cold or scorching hot, families flock with their towels and sunscreen and stake claims to the lawn chairs. Some, like us, you will rarely see; others won’t leave until Labor Day.
I took a book — one of several I’ve been trying to read unsuccessfully for the past several months — and a seat next to Jill while Kate played with some friends.
The title — Everything Changes.
The pool and book were a nice way to end a weekend that at times felt more like Groundhog Day (the movie) than Memorial Day (the holiday). On a 900-mile roundtrip that lasted just over 48 hours, I watched as my oldest graduated from high school and my wife and brother-in-law took care of their ailing father.
It was an explicit reminder that we officially are part of the Sandwich Generation, even if our hoagie feels open faced/ended and overwhelmed by condiments. (And that was before I managed to rekindle old ties in the most unlikely of places…)
Because he is the family’s oldest child (and grandchild), Nicholas’ graduation is huge in varying degrees for everyone involved. His transition to adult life turns a large page for him (obviously), as well as both of his families.
The weekend’s activities were an opportunity to bask in nostalgia, to show how proud we are of him, and to take some time remembering what has happened in getting to this point.
But first, we traveled to Boone to see Jill’s dad, who marked his 80th birthday this month by landing in the hospital with a broken arm and a cancer diagnosis. It was not exactly the way you want to start the ninth decade of your life, but Bob was happy to see his grandchildren, and to get some time away from the rehab facility where he currently resides.
Jill and her brother have an up-and-down history with their dad, but both are committed to ensuring that he has comfort, and above all else, dignity. They saw his desire to return to his house and are working to fulfill it as they can, even though we live 7 hours away and Jill’s brother is 3 hours from Boone.
Putting aside past wounds is tough, but admirable, especially in what will continue to be uncertain times ahead.
Two additional truisms/clichés were reinforced this past weekend: Irony is alive and well, and the world is a very small place. Both came courtesy of our newly coined high school graduate and two of his closest friends.
One disadvantage of Nicholas’ living in North Carolina and us living here is that we don’t know his friends and their families. On Saturday night, the McFarlands and Cooks had a chance to meet the first girl with whom he shares a his-and-her Facebook status. Ironically, she is working as an intern this summer with the person who encouraged Jill to try musical theatre when she was a child.
On Sunday, after graduation, we finally met Nicholas’ prom date — a longtime friend from middle and high school — and her parents. Except, as I discovered, we sort of already knew each other.
As it turns out, her dad and I met more than 15 years ago in Reidsville, N.C., where he opened and owned a local Subway and I worked for the newspaper. Our paths crossed on a number of occasions, and as people tend to do, we talked about our families — his little girl and my little boy.
They’re not so little any more.
When it comes to escaping your past, you’d have a better chance of swimming to shore from Alcatraz than shedding the vestiges of a small town. That’s doubly true if you’ve lived in Texas or North Carolina.
Despite what I may have thought when I left, I have no desire to escape the places that brought me to this point, or wipe them from my memory. My heart always will always have a special place for Reidsville — a place I’ve written about before — and I know I can’t fully leave it behind.
I think about this often, and was reminded of it again while reading Jonathan Tropper’s The Book of Joe, a comic novel about a man who returns to the small town where he grew up and realizes that everyone hates him, just because he had written a bestselling, thinly veiled piece of fiction about his miserable high school experience.
Tropper’s self-deprecating, faintly absurdist style appeals to me — I truly wish I could write like that — and I have been slowly making my way through his other books, of which Everything Changes is one.
Sitting at the pool yesterday afternoon, I looked around at others in the crowd and felt somewhat nostalgic. I remember when the pool opened, and what a big deal it was for our fledgling subdivision. I remembered the lifeguard getting on Ben’s case for running, and hearing him say, “I’m not running, I’m skipping.”
Then, as I went to get something out of my car, I heard a slightly deep — though distinctly teenage — voice say hello. I turned and saw a young boy/man whom I barely recognized. He asked about Ben and politely reintroduced himself, and I realized he was part of a set of twins who we met when we first got here in 2001. All four kids, plus Kate, started in daycare together and now are teenagers.
That’s when the emotions hit me.
I told the young man goodbye and walked to my car, asking myself vaguely existential questions: Where did the time go? What happened to the last 10 years? Why did the time fly by in a blink?
There’s no easy answer to the last question, or a decent explanation for all the emotions attached. I’m still processing that one.