This edition of the Willowbrook Word is about the closing of a chapter for me and the beginning of a new chapter of life for my youngest son, Jens.
The picture above is from a well-used wallet picture of Jens when he was four. Back then we talked about the year 2020 as the year he would graduate. It seemed like such big number and such a long, long way away. Time doesn’t stand still, and the year 2020 arrived. My little boy grew into a young man and looked forward to graduation. Then the pandemic hit, and plans for senior prom, hootenanny, tailgate party, awards banquets, graduation celebration and all-night grad party came to a screaming halt.
The Sedro Woolley school district got creative and held a covid-19 friendly event that let us celebrate graduation in a unique and memorable way. It was actually a walk down memory lane where seniors and family felt the support of staff and faculty, not only of the high school, but of the middle school and grade schools that the seniors had attended. It was a graduation parade! When we heard about the parade, Jens and I pulled my ’63 Ford Falcon Futura out of the garage, charged the battery, put air in the tires, gave her a good wash and started her up! The plan for this celebration was for each parent to drive their graduating senior in the parade route to the grade school they attended, then on to the middle school, and finally finishing up at the high school.
When it was parade time, six of us piled in to The Griz (the falcon) and joined in the procession. There is nothing like an old car to make a nostalgic event, and as we traveled the parade route we had a lot of ‘I remember whens.’ It was a great festive occasion and a wonderful way to celebrate. Teachers and faculty from each school stood out front, cheering each student, holding signs, balloons and noise makers. People that lived along the route sat in lawn chairs and cheered. Cars driving by honked and flashed lights as the seniors waved from passenger seats. As we approached the high school, the fire department had their ladder truck out with the lights on and ladder fully extended for us to drive under. (No water spray, thankfully.)
I love this picture of Jens approaching his high school principal, Kerri Carlton. It captures the essence of the celebration. What a great way to have a last bit of connection and fun with all of Jens' teachers and staff from kindergarten to 12th grade.
It was a sweet way for me, as a mom, to close the chapter of three decades of Gifford kids attending Sedro Woolley schools and a wonderful alternative to a large gathering for graduation during the pandemic.
I loved watching the pre-recorded graduation ceremony from the comfort of home. The commencement address was given by Steve McCartt, the well-loved technologies teacher who is retiring this year. It was a super address, with nuggets of wisdom and lots of memories. For me, the best part was when he said, "I had Jens Gifford in my yearbook class all four years which just reinforces my statement, 'this is why tigers eat their young.' I don't think that boy has ever had a bad hair day. And if he did, who would know?"
Yes, this is the closing of a chapter and the opening of another. Jens is a great young man who plans to become a welder. His after school welding class was the highlight of his education. Right now he is deciding where he will do his apprenticeship. Jens is an artist, and I see his gift of artistry coming through with his welding. He has plans to go to underwater welding school some time in the future.
Teacup Time ~
I asked Jens to share his favorite tea cup and this is what he chose from the hundreds that I have. He likes the unique flower pattern, the rich color and the touch of gold.
When his siblings come over we always put the tea kettle on. Whether sitting with tea in a mug around the kitchen island or having tea in china cups in the tea room, I love how tea brings us together.
This picture is a special memory of just a 'mama and Jens' tea time in the tea room. I think I might just miss this boy when he leaves home.