Let's see. Shall I give a report on Leiya's graduation? I think that is where I left off. Leiya's high school graduation was held in a huge auditorium at the country fairgrounds and we were amazed at the number of people attending. I think in the morning another local school had also held their graduation ceremonies there too so there were hundreds and thousands of people coming out of the fair ground as well as coming in. In Japan, high school graduation is attended by maybe the mother of the student but in Ohio there were parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, everybody imaginable! No wonder they needed an auditorium! Tetsu was very glad that he'd made the effort to come to Leiya's graduation after seeing all the family that had turned out for the other students. "It would have been a lonely graduation for Leiya if we hadn't come for her."
I think what struck us most about this graduation was the happy atmosphere throughout the whole two hours. Instead of the formal bow and set routine for receiving a diploma as in Japan, the students smilingly shook hands with different members of the school board, the principal, their school counselors etc. while there were lots of cheering and whistle blowing from the audience. Each student had also chosen a faculty member to come forward, a teacher who had been their special mentor and they freely shared hugs and back pats with the graduating student at the corner of the stage. Such a warm and happy graduation ceremony.
Caps were thrown high as the proceedings came to an end and then the students were engulfed by family members hugging and yelling and milling about trying to congratulate friends and students. Yeah Leiya! A great way to end her three years of American high school and lots of wonderful memories for Tetsu and me of this short week not to mention the memories that Leiya has stored up in the years she has lived in Ohio.
So here is Leiya in her cap and gown. And here we are, the proud parents trying not to look too much like the foreigners that we are amidst all the other people.
Later in the evening we attended a graduation party for one of Leiya's best friends and I was struck by this simple quote sitting near the girl's picture and her thank you gifts.
"Don't Cry because it's Over.
Smile because it happened.
Leiya's high school years have come to an end and she won't be with the same people who have nurtured her and been her friends... But because of them she has grown and changed for the better!