We’ve been dreading and anticipating this week since Aug! Me dreading, her anticipating. Just kidding. Kind of. 

It has been so wonderful celebrating Halle and looking back on all the amazing things she has accomplished.  And it’s been bittersweet revisiting all the old pictures of her adorable childhood. I love that tiny girl with the Minne Mouse voice, and I love this incredible, smart, and driven woman in front of me today. I can’t wait to enter this next fun chapter with her. AND….I’m sad to see this chapter of our family end. I’m going to miss having her around everyday so much. 

The festivities started the Friday before graduation with the traditional “Walk of Champions” I remember so clearly volunteering in Halle’s 2nd grade classroom and seeing this tradition for the first time. Those Seniors looked like full grown adults and it seemed impossible that Halle would ever grow up that much. Blink, and here we are. All the HS students and parents lined the halls and cheered for our graduates as they made their way to the busses to go walk the Middle School and their elementary school. Black Rock was, as always, amazing. Some of the classrooms had made signs and banners, and they’d even taken time to find and print pictures of these Seniors in their Kindergarten classes. Halle loved it. 

Next up was Seminary graduation.  I calculate over 600 days that Halle got up at the crack of dawn to attend seminary. That’s a pretty impressive feat for a teenager. I don’t think we give these kids enough credit for their dedication. They sacrifice a lot! I am so grateful for incredible seminary teachers who loved her and guided her. Despite the sacrifice, seminary is such a gift.  Halle also got to give a talk in sacrament meeting the same day.

Our ward also did a special activity to honor the Seniors. I was so touched. They did such a cute slideshow, gave them a little gift, and had yummy treats. It was a great night.

Then, Night of Reflections. This night the school honors all the Seniors with slideshows and fun speeches. I think this event would have been pretty neat under normal circumstances, but it was about 5 thousand degrees in the school gym. Seriously, sweat was dripping down my back. They showed pictures of all the kids and their college commitments. They showed baby pictures and senior pictures, honored academic and athletic scholarships. But….we were all ready to get out of that gym! 

It’s a tradition in the drama department that every senior gets to decorate a brick. Here’s Halle’s.

The big day finally arrived. I wanted to get good seats, so I showed up at Tiger Stadium 2 hours early—as soon as they opened the gates. I got the first row behind the graduates, but the seats still weren’t amazing—with a graduating class of almost 400–that’s still a lot of kids in front of us. Luckily Joanna and Heather were also there early to keep me company. 

The procession began and we were off! Mr. Buckler repeated his “Best kids in America” slogan, much to the chagrin of all the students. They make so much fun of him for that! His advice was to always seek to be a part of something bigger than yourself. 

Mr. Rupp was nominated by the students to be the keynote speaker. He was introduced as a Tik Tok “teachfluenfer.” He started with a story about a fellow teacher who had a “bird fly up his literal pants.” Chaos ensued as they tried to free the bird. At one point the man said, “go grab the sheet from my guillotine replica!” This gave Mr. Rupp pause, wondering why anyone needed a replica of a guillotine.” But he grabbed the sheet, making a makeshift changing room so the other teacher come take off his pants and set the bird free. When the bird was out of his pants, he calmly put them back on, and walked away like nothing had happened. Mr. Rupp had everyone in stitches. At the end of the story he said, “now, why would I tell you that story? Just because it’s a REALLY great story!” 

After we all had a good laugh, he told the students that we all needed to life life a little more light-heartedly. Not everything needs to be a big deal. Even a bird in your pants. He advised them to see problems as opportunities and enjoy the experience of the unknown and all the rewards that come with it. My favorite line was “You don’t have to feel overwhelmed before you feel motivated.” That’s some good advice. 

Dario, the Student Body President also gave a speech. My favorite line from his was when he said that they had now all “been freed from the shackles of childhood.” 😂😂😭

Then everyone walked across the stage to receive their diploma. I loved that they didn’t make the kids sit alphabetically. They let them sit with whoever they wanted and they all just carried a name card with the phonetic spelling of their name to hand to the announcer before they walked across the stage. It made the ceremony so much more fun for the graduates to be able to sit with friends. 

All too soon tassels were moved from right to left, caps were tossed in the air, and just like that, they were HS graduates.  Smiles and tears accompanied the roar from the crowd. The graduates came back to their families carrying flowers for their parents. That was a sweet little touch. 

It was so special to have Nat and Michael and Car and Dan and Grandma and Grandpa there to celebrate. It shows a lot of love to sit through a high school graduation where you will only know one name. 

Look at this girl and all her honors. Gold Tassle for her 3.95 GPA. Gold Cords for National Honors Society. Pink cord for being a 4 year band participant. And Black cord for being a lifetime Erie student. All grades K-12 spent at Erie Schools. 

We left all the little kids at Carlie’s house. So we snapped a cousin picture when we got back to the house.

Many pictures later we were on our way home for presents. Halle has been obsessed with this weighted dinosaur from Target. Everyone else is obsessed too—it’s been out of stock for months. 

One morning I happened to be by my phone when an in stock notification came through. I snagged it in 10 seconds flat and it was set to arrive the day before graduation. I was so proud of myself! Well…the day before graduation came along with a notification that shipping had been delayed to June 7. I hurried and hopped on the website to see if there were any Dino’s from Colorado Springs to Erie, as my parents were coming up that way. Luck was on our side. There were 3 left in Lakewood. G&G saved the day and picked it up on their way to our house. 

Carlie and Nat gave her the cutest tote filled with all kinds of random and useful college items. They even got her a pink tool set. The whole gift was so thoughtful. 

G&G got her some other college essentials like a big long power strip, a laundry basket that can be worn like a backpack, and a giant make up organizer. 

Pretty sure this was better than both her birthday AND Christmas. 

Later that afternoon was Party time! We had an assembly line of adults chopping fruits and veggies while Jack and Gwen filled the cups. I baked the cookies, Rusty and Dan got the balloons and we were off to the park! 

I’m so glad we decided to do the combined party. It made everything so festive and fun!And so much less work! Everyone contributed to the food and decor.  My fruit and veggies went FAST. Next time I’m ditching the cookies and doing more of those. And the tiger tails. They were also a favorite. 

We enjoyed chatting with friends and neighbors and celebrating these special kids! 

And isn’t Halle’s dress just gorgeous? 

We ended the night grabbing some food at Noodles and a Greek place in the same parking lot. 

Velma made Halle this incredible tshirt quilt filled with lots of her Middle and High School memories. What an absolute treasure.

It’s a day we’ll never forget! Who am I kidding—I will definitely forget the details. That’s why I keep this blog! 

We love you Halle girl! We could not be more proud of your brains, your hard work, your ambition, and your kind heart. Watch out world! This girl is going places! 

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