Parent Leslie Schiff shares her thoughts as her son nears graduation from Friends School of Minnesota.

I’ve meant to write this for a long time, and now—since my son is an imminent FSM graduate–I feel like it’s too late. It’s awkward, because this will be his graduation…my last as an FSM parent. Because this one will be his, maybe I have lost some degree of credibility. My goal was to write, as a lower school parent and then a newbie middle school parent, about the value of participating in the FSM graduation.

We started going to graduation because our son was asked to play the recorder while folks were taking their seats. Of course I was proud of him and his recorder colleagues, but I was blown away by graduation. I was awestruck by the honesty, maturity, vulnerability and poise of the graduates as they gave their speeches. I was moved by the pride of their parents, and the words spoken by family members and FSM staff at the meeting for worship that is part of the ceremony.  Often, past graduates return to support the new graduates, with whom they have shared classes, experiences at Crosby Farm, or ‘buddies’.  These alumni often step up at the end of the ceremony to sing with the 7th and 8thgraders. Graduation at FSM embodies the school values of simplicity, integrity, and community. I am an ‘easy cry’, and I’ve learned to bring Kleenex to graduation. I’ve needed it at all the graduations I’ve attended over the years, none of which were as personal as this one will be.

If you are a lower school parent, or a new-ish middle school parent, I encourage you to attend graduation sometime before your child graduates. A glimpse of graduates on their final day will help you appreciate the transformation that FSM helps to work on its students. It transforms them from crazy ‘budging’ 5 year olds, to interesting and introspective teenagers who are more than ready to take on what high school has to offer–even if they are still, sometimes, a bit crazy.

–Leslie Schiff, soon-to-be parent of an FSM alumnus