Elliot gave a speech for his high school commencement ceremony from our Living Room this morning. We recorded it on a smartphone and then uploaded to Google Drive for review by a teacher. If approved (and selected from other submissions), it will play on the big screen at the Midway Drive-In Movie Theater on May 30th. That’s when Elliot, his classmates, and their families will drive in to observe their high school graduation.
This period of managing the COVID-19 pandemic is a strange time for all of us. But especially for seniors.
After submitting his speech, Elliot drove off to the high school (by himself). He had an appointment to walk through a carefully-prepared segment of the building. Teachers ushered him through a process to walk across a stage and receive a dummy diploma (not an official document) by two members of the high school staff wearing face masks and face shields. He paused for a photograph by the high school band director. Then, he handed the dummy diploma back to another set of teachers to disinfect for the next senior. As I understand it, this process is being repeated in ten-minute increments for each member of the graduating class of 2020.
The graduates will pick up their real diplomas on the afternoon of the 30th. Before the ceremony / screening at the Drive-In Movie Theater.
Later in the evening, H2O Kent “gathered” its graduating seniors on a video conference. We wanted to celebrate everything God has done in and through them over the last several years of their involvement with our church. Some of the H2O Staff hosted the event. And we decided to dress up for the occasion with a shirt, tie, and jacket. But I also chose to poke fun at the “occasion” by wearing basketball shorts and tube socks underneath the desk. To toast the seniors, I brought a champagne flute and a can of our finest La Croix (sparkling water).
It was not what any of us would have wished for. Their final farewell to Kent should be a grand occasion. Much grander than face-shields, and Zoom, and basketball shorts, and La Croix.
But the strange stuff is better than nothing.
Our H2O celebration consisted mostly of story-telling. Students spoke of key relationships formed during their university years. We remembered special events from the past several years. We talked about the character formation that occurred, as well. And we finished with praying for the students. We asked God to use each moment of their lives — including the strange ones — to draw us closer to Him.
I’m proud of the way that each of these seniors are taking all the strange stuff in stride. I hope that the weirdness of these days will make the story-telling all the more wonderful in the years to come. And I pray that they will walk with God all the days of their lives.