Monday evening my kids' school, Vista Verde, held a promotion ceremony for all the 8th graders leaving for high school in a large ballroom generously donated by the Irvine Marriott. Many of the kids had been at Vista Verde for nine years (since kindergarten), so it was a bit bigger of a deal than many other local middle schools' promotions.
The valedictorian, Stephen, lives in our neighborhood, and we've known him since he was a baby; he gave a very impressive speech, one that would have been good even for an adult politician. We also heard an amusing catalog of years and events from the twin class historians (and national-level softball players) who of course wove softball as a metaphor throughout their talk. Many awards were handed out; the surprise of the evening for us was the David Leidel memorial award (named after a local kid who died in a car accident years ago) for persistence and tenacity, which they gave to Sara. They had spelled out her first and last name on the certificate, each letter standing for an adjective that described her and a sentence of elaboration signed by one of her past teachers, and read out the whole thing to her on stage.
Afterwards there was much jumping up and down and taking pictures of each other and milling around in the hotel hallways, and then we took the kids out for ice cream. We weren't the only ones with that idea; we saw two other families we knew at the same ice cream store. School officially ended today — for the first time neither of my kids will be on a year-round schedule, so they'll both have a long summer break to enjoy.
(This is out of chronological order: it will take me much longer to finish processing all the photos from my cousin's wedding last weekend...)