We finally reached the last destination of our road trip, Huntsville, Alabama. We came to Huntsville to attend the high school graduation ceremonies of our beautiful granddaughter Fiona.
The first of the two ceremonies we attended at Randolph School was a Baccalaureate service. We met the family Friday evening in the auditorium where a reception was underway for the graduates their families and guests.
The reception was very nice and gave us a chance to chat with the family before going over to the Thurber Arts Center for the service. The evening festivities began with a graduate processional, singing of the Alma Mater, Invocation, a lovely solo of Shubert’s song “An die Musik” by senior Neelesh Manandhar, and an address by 2017 Salutatorian, Linda Melone.
The evening’s guest speaker was Upper School English teacher Lewis Cobbs. The address was followed by a performance by the Randolph Concert Choir. Fiona is a member of this choir. It was nice to hear her sweet voice. Fiona won the National School Choral Award for 2017. The choral performance was followed by another senior performer, Coner McFarlin who performed a song he had written called, “Where You Want To Go” Both senior soloists were wonderful.
The closing remarks were made by the 2017 President of the Honor Concil, Andrew Tyler Johnson. This was followed by senior members of the Concert Choir singing “Homeward Bound” by Marta Keen.
The entire service was quite lovely. It was a little chaotic catching up with Fiona at the end of the service. We finally caught up with her in the lobby and prepared to go to dinner. As this was Fiona’s weekend she would choose where to go. She chose to go to the City Café. This seems to be a family favorite. The menu is varied, the food is delicious and the service is wonderful. Good choice.
We returned to the hotel late and retired quickly. Commencement exercises would start promptly at 9:30am and we wanted to be there a little early to secure seats for the family.
We were a little worried again this morning as the day started with overcast skies and a light drizzle and the commencement was to be held on The Commons Lawn. We actually did arrive before the rest of the family and were surprised to see that many families had taped names to many of the chairs on the lawn the night before. It took us a few minutes but we finally found enough chairs for the family and settled down.
The Commons Lawn was a very pretty setting for this auspicious occasion. Everyone was happily talking and laughing as they waited for the commencement to begin. Everyone stood as the faculty started the processional to their seats to Bach’s “Sleepers, Wake”. The graduates took their seats of honor to Korb & Roever’s “Highland Catherdral”.
We had a very nice view of Fiona throughout the proceedings. There were speeches by the 2017 class president, presentation of awards, Valedictory address, the awarding of diplomas, closing remarks and finally the farewell address to the Class of 2017 by Head of School, James E. Rainey, Jr.
One thing that I thought was interesting and fun was the manner in which they called the graduates up to receive their diplomas. Usually, the graduates are called up alphabetically. Here they called the graduates up randomly.
I loved Mr. Rainey’s address. I loved that he talked about one of my very favorite people of all time, Mr. Fred Rogers of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood. This was a show my children watched when they were young. He spoke of Mr. Roger’s optimism, acceptance.
Rainey said, “Mr. Roger’s had this to say to the children in his audience, and he would have had it to say, I am sure, to the Randolph School Class of 2017: “If you could only sense how important you are to the lives of those you meet, how important you can be to the people you may never even dream of. There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person”.
Rainey ended his remarks saying, “Farewell, Randolph Class of 2017! We wish all of you acceptance, courage, wisdom, serenity, and love in your lives ahead”. “Very nice, very nice,” I thought to myself.
And then, following tradition, the graduates tossed their mortar boards in the air before the recessional. What a sight!
Once again, it was a little chaotic trying to catch up with Fiona. We finally located her in the choral room. Fiona was given the choice of the restaurant she where the family would have lunch. We drove over to Taqueria El Cazador Mexican Restaurant to enjoy a delicious Mexican lunch. While enjoying our lunch, we talked about everyone’s plans for the summer.
Roger and Lauren will be relocating to Seattle, Washington. Fiona will be off to the Agnes Scott College in Georgia in August. She has chosen to follow a study of liberal arts until she decides where she will focus her interests and talents.
It was time to say our goodbyes. We gave hugs and kisses all around and headed back to our hotel. We rose early, ate a light breakfast and then got back on the road again for the homeward bound leg of our trip.
We left Huntsville with the sounds of rain gently falling on the windshield and fog slowly lifting off the nearby mountains. But, if I looked a little harder I could see a hint of blue sky ahead.