Tuesday, June 2, 2015

John Paul Officially Grows Up

This is a year of milestones for John Paul Janaro. In fact, it's been a week of milestones!

This past Friday he graduated from Chelsea Academy. At the beginning of this week he turned eighteen years old. According to American law, he is now an adult.

I think I am beginning to believe that kids really do grow up.

I've done enough "baby retrospectives" on John Paul. But on the occasion of his high school graduation, I could not help remembering the first "graduation ceremony" in his life. It was just a family affair, with Eileen and me and the kids and Uncle Walter and "Papa and Grandma." This is a blog. I have to do a flashback of some kind.
So, first of all, here is a nice picture of John Paul receiving his Salutatorian award from the headmaster of Chelsea in 2015:

And here are some pictures from his kindergarten graduation in the summer of 2003. The "Saint Benedict Academy" was a fancy name for the Janaro family homeschool. With his mother as teacher, of course, you can be assured that his kindergarten education marked a worthy accomplishment:

John Paul demonstrates reading proficiency in this presentation to the family assembly.

John Paul presents his "kindergarten project," a graphic that has something to do with trucks and bridges, I think...

John Paul is awarded his kindergarten diploma in 2003, with all the rights and privileges pertaining to it! 

Okay I'm sure Papa and Grandma remember this little boy very well. So do we! He's gotten bigger, but he's brought all that was best in that boy with him.

When I began this blog, John Paul was still thirteen. In the past four and a half years he has grown into a young man in so many ways. As parents we can only be amazed and "proud" (in the most positive sense of the term).

John Paul receives his diploma.
John Paul is still young, of course. But he has made his first achievements in the "adult world." A high school graduation is significant enough, but Chelsea Academy is a special challenge. The range of the Chelsea educational experience reminds me of a gymnasium or a liceo classico in Europe combined with the athletics and extracurricular activities of an American prep school.

But there is nothing snobbish about Chelsea. Rather, my kids are being challenged to work hard, play hard, and embrace responsibility in a spirit of friendship. It strikes me as the healthy and constructive path to open up and engage the energy of adolescence. We are so grateful to this beautiful school, to this great gift of God in the life of our family.

John Paul more than rose to the challenge. He graduated with a nearly perfect GPA, lettered in basketball, tennis, math club, drama, and finished second in his class.

John Paul gives Salutatorian address.
It was an amazing thing for me, thirty years after giving the Valedictorian address at my own college graduation, to sit in the second row and listen to my son give a beautiful and articulate Salutatorian speech at his own high school commencement.

The greatest blessing, however, has been to watch John Paul mature in his own faith, his own awareness of the concreteness of his personal relationship to Christ.

He has learned from family life and at school, but in a irreplaceable way he and his classmates have learned something from the presence of Jesus with them, from their own experience of being-together for a reason that encompasses and gives value to everything.

They have had a taste of the Mystery drawn close to their own lives and hopes. They have encountered Jesus in a new and compelling fashion. Especially in their senior year, they struggled with problems and challenges that enabled them to see the presence of Jesus building them up together, and including the larger circle of former classmates who had left for other schools but who continued to grow together as friends.

John Paul says that he has made friends for life. Indeed, he has made friends for eternity.

Some of the Class of 2015, after commencement. Visit Chelsea's website HERE.

This most important of all lessons has just begun for my son. But with it he is deepening his own identity as a person. He is growing up and maturing in his own freedom, and I don't really feel like we're "losing a child" but rather gaining a deeper bond with a person who will continue to be "with us," wherever his journey may take him.