As I wind down this day, I have one thing on my mind. 2016 High School graduates. Life School graduates. Life School Red Oak graduates, to be exact. Tomorrow, May 28, they will walk the stage and receive their high school diplomas, many of whom have been at Life School Red Oak since the day it opened. I was there that day in 2003. I vividly remember walking up to the school that beautiful morning with my kindergartner, Brooke and 2nd grader, Joseph. Yes, the below photo was taken that morning. As you can see, their new uniforms were sharp and fresh, and every hair was in place. They, with shiny new backpacks filled with supplies and the first of many sack lunches, were ready, along with 100’s of other bright-eyed little people. The foyer was filled with loud and high pitched excitement as children met their teachers and found faces they recognized from Sunday School. Many parents looked anxious, some quite harried and even others looked relieved as their “babies” weren’t crying as they had to let go of Mama. I saw quite a few Mom’s holding in tears themselves as they quickly exited the building. Hard to believe that tomorrow marks the day of completion for the kindergartners from that particular day. I imagine the foyer will be just as loud though the voices will be those of, well, adults. The parents again will have some anxious, harried and relieved feelings again and am certain tears will be flowing openly. I already have tears streaming down my cheeks writing this. I really have deep emotion for this class. My baby, Brooke, was part of the 2016 class and would’ve been walking that stage as well, but baby girl chose a different route. The summer prior to her junior year, she decided she wanted to graduate early by condensing down 2 years into one. She convinced her dad and me that she could do it and, without pomp and circumstance, she quietly completed high school graduating the summer of 2015. Yep, she did it! And though only 17 years old, she then took off to attend college 5 hours away from home, while her former classmates started their much-anticipated senior year. She has watched on social media as they celebrated all their “lasts” of high school and enjoyed Homecoming, Prom, award banquets and more. She’s missed much, but tells me she has no regrets. She wouldn’t trade the year of college she has under her belt, which included sharing a small 2 person dorm room, a community bathroom, and chasing down most meals in the school cafeteria. She’s learned her way around a college campus, a new town and has just landed a summer job. Brooke won’t walk the stage tomorrow, but this mama heart sees her walking the stage of life with her beautiful head held high and her gracious smile shining. I’m proud of you Brooke. I’m also proud that you will be there with them tomorrow cheering for your classmates as they walk across that stage. This marks the beginning of a new chapter for the class of 2016. As they embark on their journeys, my prayer is that they too can be as brave as you, Brooke Evangeline Bryce!
………….I have finished the course. I have kept the faith. 2 Timothy 4:7