Saturday, June 25, 2016

Ben's High School Graduation

Long, long ago before the evacuation (that seems like AGES ago), I decided to come home in June.  It would have been a year since I saw my family and I knew I would be needing some time in the United States.  Plus, Ben would be graduating from high school, so it was the perfect time to come home!  Then, with the evacuation, I ended up needing to come home anyways, so it worked out well! As much as I love traveling, it's so hard to miss out on family and friend events, such as graduations.  If it were up to me, I would just have all of my friends and family come live and travel with us in Europe.

I was SO excited to be home for Ben's graduation.  The graduation ceremony wasn't until 1:30, but we had a busy day so I was up and out the door by 8:00.  My aunts and I got manicures and pedicures first thing in the morning.  It felt so nice to get all polished up and get to spend some time with my aunts. No pictures though because our hands were a little preoccupied ;)

After the mani/pedi, I rushed to pick up Grandfather at his new apartment (still swooning over it!) so we could head to the convention center in time to get enough seats for our crowd. We ended up being extremely early to the ceremony, but it worked out in our favor since we needed to save a lot of seats.  One by one the Ben fan club trickled in and were all ready for the ceremony.

Because there are 11 high schools in Virginia Beach and they all need to have their ceremony in the same convention center within a few days of each other, each ceremony is only two hours long.  That means that there isn't time for a lot of fluff and definitely not time for a key note speaker.  Despite this, the ceremony was so nice.  The valedictorian and salutatorian gave incredible speeches, especially for being 18 years old.  There were over 400 graduates, but I felt like they good job of recognizing students for different accomplishments.  Ben wore a white sash because he was in National Honor Society (he was the president! Proud sister!) and everyone who had above a 4.0 GPA wore a light blue sash (Ben would have had one of those, but he had the white for NHS. Guys, I'm just so proud!). Doing simple things like that helped to recognize students' accomplishments, despite the large size.

The graduates have arrived!!
That big adult walking across the stage? I remember the day he was born.

By the end of the ceremony, we were all beaming and a few of us were crying.  We love a good graduation ceremony!! After we exited, we realized that it was POURING outside and our well-devised plan to meet Ben outside across the parking lot away from the crowds was not going to work.  We finally found him and were able to grab a few pictures with the graduate.

Man, oh man, am I proud of this guy.  He is by far the smartest of the three Russo kids and the most determined and hard-working, as well (Sorry Andrew!).  I know that he will do well at William and Mary and that it will be such a good fit, although it breaks my heart that he's going to one of JMU's biggest rivals.

After the ceremony, we all parted ways for a few hours.  I went to get the cake, my aunts, uncles, grandfather and cousins went home for a few hours and my parents went home to get ready for the party that night.  Ben isn't one to enjoy being the center of attention, so it didn't surprise us when he said he didn't want a big party.  Instead, we just had our family and Ben's Godparents over for dinner, cake and celebrating.  It was a great evening and Ben and all of his accomplishments were still celebrated.

Ben-we are so proud of you and are in awe of all you have accomplished.  You are going to do incredible things at William and Mary and beyond! Congratulations!

This kid.  We couldn't be prouder.

Mom joined in

My heart and soul.