Because so many people asked me so nicely, I took pictures at Hannah's school's 8th grade graduation last night. There were 10 graduates, all of them handsome, interesting kids. I took lots and lots of pictures: individual portraits, shots of families, candid shots while everyone was getting ready, group shots and then pictures during the ceremony. (Next year I'm making myself a press pass that says National Geographic on it so the local "newspaper" photographer will stay out of my way.)
I'm a sucker for pomp, for circumstance, for rites of passage anyway, but last night's ceremony was particularly sweet and wonderful. It didn't feel at all like a sudden, final spurt of sentimentality and goodwill and best wishes the way this type of ceremony often does. Rather, it was a clear expression of how nurturing this school is, how every student is taken seriously, how tight-knit and close the community is--not just on the last day of school, not just right before a crop of kids are sent off to high school and the great big world beyond, but every single day. It's no surprise that everyone knows everyone else and that they've all grown close over the years; this is a very small school in a tiny little town. What's striking is the teachers and parents wanting something and working together to attain it, the students responding by involving themselves in making the school what it is.
I've had a bittersweet feeling at the top of my throat all day long. It's Hannah's last day of Kindergarten and like her teacher--who waved me off with an "Oh no, please don't make me cry" when I thanked her for a great year--I'm one gulp away from tears. Sifting through the 608 pictures I took last night isn't helping much. In a few short years, that'll be Hannah and her friends all dressed up, laughing, nervous, excited, that'll be John and I and the other parents swelling with pride, still wondering where the time has gone.