I’ve known for a long time this was coming, but somehow it still seems to have crept up on me.
In early 2009, I was at sitting at a table with some other parents in what was then the Valley Hub, formerly Sam & Augies, and later Robin’s Egg Bleu, and now Mountain to River Realty. We were meeting to begin planning the bi- annual Little Star Montessori School spring auction. A moment later, Diane Childs and Carol Heitman walked in and sat down, pulled out binders and notepads, and began planning the Liberty Bell Class of 2009 graduation party.
The moment I saw these fellow moms I saw my future. At the time, I had a two-year-old and a four-year-old; my oldest was 13 years away from graduating—seemingly light years—but I knew the time would flash past, as of course it has, and now I am a parent of a student in the upcoming graduating Class of 2022.
I also knew that these moms, intent on fundraising and strategizing for a graduation party that would keep their kids safe on a night that allegedly rivals prom night for student deaths due to drinking and driving, were looking at we Little Star moms, remembering the days when their biggest worry about their kids was whether or not they’d wail and cling to their mother’s legs at pre-school drop-off.
The two groups waved to each other: us acknowledging our future selves, them remembering their former selves. I felt nostalgic, anachronistically; I wasn’t yet on the verge of watching a fledgling fly from the nest, but I felt as if I were. My own kids’ childhoods, most of it still in front of them, instantly felt ephemeral. Now, with hindsight, I realize they were.
I bring this up because it’s the time of year when the senior class parents sell handmade, regionally-sourced holiday wreaths and swags to raise funds to support the graduation party (learn more at tinyurl.com/methowseniorwreaths). The party includes any graduating senior, regardless of whether they completed their high school education at Liberty Bell, the ILC, at home, through Running Start, or any other educational venue. These kids were born and raised here, or they moved here in later years and integrated into the student body; they’ve played in concerts together, appeared on stage together, been in classes and on sports teams together. They’ve fought, they’ve reconciled. They’ve won and lost competitions together, they’ve gotten in trouble together, they’ve learned and grown together.
And every year, as has become tradition, they spend graduation evening together, celebrating their accomplishments, unwinding from what is always a jam-packed last few weeks of high school, and enjoying each other’s company before they scatter to the next chapters of their lives.
The graduation party unites the members of the graduating class one last time. And in recent years, especially the past two, this seems particularly important. Since 2016 and certainly since the pandemic these kids have seen their country and their community increasingly divided. Graduation is one of life’s natural forks in the road—a time when geography, career choices, and life’s vagaries inherently separate students who finished high school together. With so much division in the graduating class’s recent lives, and so much more still ahead, it seems the best parting we can give them is a celebration of what unites them.