It's easy to roll your eyes and think that 8th grade graduations are just another example of today's parents being too quick to exclaim over every "miracle" their children accomplish.
I'm excusing this one because A. CKS is a K-8 school so it really is the end of something and B. It's my kid, dammit.
Special thanks to Karin Ogden for helping arrange the little gathering after a later-than-expected graduation service and to Jenna, Alex, Hannah, Miss Amy, Aunt La, Duane and Kirsten for joining us for the big night. It's timing wasn't ideal for traveling -- hence the shortage of blood relatives, but then again, it was 8th grade.
So yes, Alison successfully matriculated through the little catholic church we chose for her because it was close, safe, had a great academic program and when we went to tour, was described to us by very well spoken, polite and smart 8th graders.
"I want her to be like that when she's in 8th grade," Jeff said of our little prospective CKS Tiger. They accepted her in despite our heathen status and we haven't regretted it. The school has some awesome teachers and Ali has learned a lot about a lot of things.
Part of my desire to send her to a catholic school was to give her a look at organized religion and doctrine so she could be informed rather than just shoved into the religion of her parents. She surprised me by electing not to join the church. I was prepared to go along with her. But she didn't feel compelled and I didn't force it.
She has some really great friends at the school but she's never gelled with who, in fourth or fifth grade she described as "sassy girls." She was more of a tomboy and got a little lost when the kids started into the hormonal years. Not that it was ever horrible. Most likely it was a more gentle rite of passage than some others experienced. Certainly it's not been a harsh life for the little redhead.
Her pivotal year was 7th grade when, after years of being scared to even give a speech in class, she decided to try out for the class play. Everyone in the grade had to do something, but that could have included stage work, something behind the scenes. She landed the role of Genie in "Aladdin" and the reviews were tremendous. That led to Young Actors Theatre and the solidification of her self-confidence.
One of the last assignments for 2015 graduates of CKS was to write a six word memoir about their years at the school. Some of the kids were funny; others didn't really take the assignment to heart.
Alison wrote: "Was scared. Got up and sang."
Donna Aragon is the school music teacher and 7th grade play director. She made cast decisions. When Jeff told her about the memoir, she cried.
Whatever happens in Ali's life, I'm sure she'll credit her Donna with being a big part of it. Which is funny because I have two Donnas in my life that helped me in the same way. My sister and Donna Gorby, my journalism teacher. I'd be living in a rusty trailer with 12 cats had they not helped me.
So here's to all the Donnas in the world. Whatever their names or professions.
And congrats to Ali Reed on her graduation. Herron High School is next. Can't wait to see what happens next.