Graduation for my son’s class of 2018 is right around the corner. We are a mere two weeks away from celebrating their high school achievement with an all day, all night great big bash of a succession of events.
For the past several months, I have been heavily involved in organizing the dry grad event (the after prom party). Dry grad was initially created several years ago as alternative for a safe drug and alcohol free graduation experience. It is an event that hosts games, amusement park themed activities, performers, prizes and generally ends in the wee hours of the morning with a pancake breakfast.
Last Friday, as our Vice Principal and I mapped out the series of graduation events on the white board, he casually mentioned the toast. “I’m sorry, what toast?” I asked. “The toast that you and another parent will give at the first event of the evening.” He smiled sheepishly and asked, “didn’t I tell you about the toast to the grads?”
Now, I am a writer. I like to work in my little bubble of a work space with my writing sweater over my shoulders and my cup of tea ready at my right hand. My imagination is one of my greatest companions and though I am not afraid of mingling with people of the real world, I am not a huge fan of speaking to hundreds of them all at once.
“You don’t like public speaking?” The Vice Principal asked. “I’m more of a behind the scenes kind of girl.” I responded. “I enjoy speaking with groups…about the size of a book club”. So, off I went to the weekend to contemplate my fate of having to speak in front of 350 grads, their parents, grandparents, siblings, and such.
To say I was a little concerned about this upcoming graduation toast is an understatement. I quickly connected with the other parent and was relieved to learn that she actually loves giving speeches. Really? I thought. People actually enjoy doing that kind of thing. Between us, we decided that I would write the toast and she would deliver it. I merely have to stand by her side while she speaks with grace and eloquence and addresses the hundreds of eyeballs who will have nothing to do but stare at us.
Whew! Dodged a bullet there I thought to myself, feeling very relieved as we continued on to enjoy an evening of dry grad planning and lively conversation. It wasn’t until yesterday evening that the weight of having to write the toast actually descended upon me.
There have been great speeches given at commencements around the globe. Many have quoted the likes of Einstein, Martin Luther King, and others whose unique and bold insights helped shape our world. Though ours will be a much shorter and concise delivery of congratulations, I am just as compelled to do it well and make an impact on those in attendance.
When I began the search for words appropriate for this short toast, I started with the medium I love most. I started with books. As I write this post, words mimicking the rhyme like antics of Dr. Seuss are running through my mind. Though the toast is far from ready to deliver, I wanted to share with you some of the titles that are inspiring our words. You too, may have a meaningful graduation gift you are in search of this June.
- The Moth Presents All These Wonders: True Stories About Facing the Unknown
- Oh, The Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss
- She Believed She Could, So She Did! by Kathy Weller
- Yay, You! by Sandra Boynton
And my personal new favorite that I spotted last evening at an Indigo Bookstore Event.
- I Wish You More, by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
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