The Donahue household was buzzing with excitement at the end of last week. Caleb graduated from Kindergarten. We are now the parents of a very proud first grader. Of course, he still has two more weeks of school before he is free for the summer and can truly revel in his “future first grader” excitement.
Last week was full of preparations for the big day. Caleb and his classmates spent a lot of time practicing for their performance part of the ceremony. Their graduation ceremony was held during the school’s normal Friday chapel time. Typically held for an hour, chapel entailed more time than needed for 18 kindergarteners to walk across the stage to receive their “diplomas”. Apparently, they had a particularly long practice time on Thursday trying to get the last details right.
Finally, the big day came. Caleb could hardly contain his excitement Friday morning as he got ready for school. Since the graduation ceremony was at 9:00, I decided to stay at school with Caleb when we dropped him off at 8:00 while Robert ran to the office to drop off his computer. It was a good that I stayed, since I ended up helping with graduation robes and mortarboards.
It didn’t take very long to get the kids robed and capped, but it did provide time for parents to snap pictures of the various groups of friends gathering together. It seemed very foretelling of events to come in about 12 years. And it was so cute to watch the kids. They were so full of excitement! They could hardly stand still when their teacher called them to line up for the ceremony. Of course, we are talking about kindergarteners here.
The ceremony was enjoyable for both parents and students. Since it was during chapel time, all the elementary school students were in attendance. It started out with the Ugandan National Anthem. We only sang the first verse despite three verses being displayed on the overhead projection. Caleb informed us that the second verse is only sung with the President is attendance and the third verse is only sung when the President dies. I’m not sure how accurate his information is, but it sounded like a decent explanation to me. The National Anthem was followed by the kids singing “In my Life, Lord” and a prayer led by one of the graduates.
The kids then did a presentation of the “ABCs of the Bible.” This was a collection of 26 verses, each starting with a letter of the alphabet from A to Z. The kids have been learning these all year long, and it was fun to hear them all together. Rather than doing them together as a whole class, though, the teacher had different children or groups of children perform each verse. Caleb had a “solo” and a “duet” with another little girl of which he was very proud. He can also recite all 26 verses for you if you ask.
After the ABCs, the kids performed a couple of songs: “Skip to my Lou” and “Rejoice in the Lord”. The second song even had some instrumental accompaniment played by the kids. It was so cute. Caleb said he was a “tambourine”, although he wasn’t actually holding one. I assume they probably didn’t have enough to go around.
The songs were followed by admonitions by three first graders and the presentation of the diplomas. It was very official. When each child’s name was called, they walked across the stage to receive their diploma and have their mortarboard tassel moved to the opposite side. One little boy, the son of the teacher, had a serious case of stage fright and required a good bit of coaxing to finally cross the stage to receive his diploma.
The ceremony was concluded with closing remarks from the teacher who was obviously very proud of her students and a beautiful prayer lead by the school registrar. Apparently, it is a high honor bestowed on a teacher or faculty member to be asked to conduct the closing prayer of chapel time, and it was a beautiful blessing for the children.
Once the rest of the students were dismissed, the graduates and their parents gathered for a little reception. The cake and cookies only held the kids attention for a little while though, and it wasn’t long before they all ventured off to play on the “big kids” playground, one of the “admonitions” of the first graders. By 10:30, the festivities were complete and it was time to head home. Because the graduation ceremony was in the morning, the kids were given the choice of taking a half day or staying for the entire school day. It sounded like many of the kids were staying, presumably because their parents work, and I wish I could have convinced Caleb to as well but he wouldn’t have any of it.
Caleb’s graduation day was concluded with a dinner at a restaurant of his choice. He chose to go to his favorite “chicken” place, which is actually a steak place where he orders chicken. Robert and I easily agreed, as it is one of our favorite places as well. We were a little surprised that he didn’t choose a pizza place or a place with a trampoline. We were joined by Caleb’s adopted aunts and uncle here in Uganda. It was a good surrogate family for a momentous occasion to honor a very special little boy. All in all, it was a very good graduation and I hope the prelude to a few more.
Happy Graduation, Caleb!