During the month of June, many proud parents and grandparents prepare themselves for grammar and high school graduations. Through the years, I’ve attended quite a few as a parent and now as a grandparent. I enjoyed my two grandsons’ graduation programs.
In 2003, when one grandson graduated from grammar school, the commentator of the program sang a song in rap, which was surprising and entertaining. The same year, at my younger grandson’s graduation from Head Start, the 5-year-old graduates recited short poems on “Being Kind,” “A Smile,” “Manners,” and “Please and Thank You.” The poems were cute. Each of those graduation programs had an exercise that I thought was unique.
But Northwest Institute of Contemporary Learning’s June 13 graduation program had several unique exercises.
One unusual part of the program was the message of the mime?”Ms. Ciscily Reynolds?”who volunteered her talents, wore a loose top, a loose pair of pants and face paint as her costume. She used a Bible that she placed on the floor of the stage as a prop. The young lady’s face was painted white on one side and the other side black. Her clothing was like a clown’s costume. The left side of her top was white, and the right side was black. The left leg of her pants was black and the right leg was white.
Beginning the pantomime, she punched her fists one after the other into the air like a boxer fighting a tough opponent. To help her step over an insurmountable obstacle, she put both hands around her ankle to help lift one foot, and then lifted the other. She danced and somersaulted on and off stage. Her rendition of “Every Mountain” was excellent. I had no trouble understanding her movements, which described overcoming life’s challenges with God’s help.
Another highlight of the program was the two lead singers of the chorus, which consisted of various grade levels of students who attend Northwest Institute of Contemporary Learning. On the first song, “I Believe I Can Fly,” made famous by R. Kelly, lead singer Donjanae Morgan did a superb job. D’Amonte Saddler was the lead singer on the second song, “Flying without Wings.” He looked to be about 10 years old or younger (I’m not good at guessing ages). His interpretation and presentation of the song were powerful. His strong voice stirred feeling inside me. The audience and I swayed from side to side along with his singing. I think both Donjanae Morgan and D’Amonte Saddler will most likely succeed in a musical career if they choose to.
The most unique part of the program, of course, was my granddaughter, Ashley Johnson, who gave the kindergarten valedictorian speech. The speech was long for a 6-year-old, but she handled it beautifully, welcoming the audience and thanking them for being there. Next, she thanked her parents and grandparents for their love and support. Then she turned to a new subject.
“Now to the school,” she said, “I thank my teachers for educating me and selecting me for the Valedictorian Award. I was shocked when my teacher told me I was valedictorian of the class.” By this time, I was feeling very proud and a little choked up with emotion. I was not paying attention to the last part of her speech. After the program, her mom told me she had not left out one word of her speech.
The Northwest Institute of Contemporary Learning’s graduation program was worth attending because it provided good, unusual talent, and it developed and used the talents of the students.