That week is upon us.
The week that thousands and thousands of high school seniors wait for to make that life-changing walk across a stage to the delight of themselves, their parents, grandparents, friends and anyone else who seems to matter.
Right here in Harford County we are right in the middle of it. As I'm writing this (Tuesday morning) a few have already made the stroll. Others are doing so later today and more will fill out the week with ceremonies Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
In every school I have had the pleasure of writing about, meeting and enjoyed watching over the past four years. There are way too many to name, so I won't. There are a few who stick out a bit more than others, but they're all making that same walk.
For me, though, this year became a little more special to me when my life changed in 2006. In that year, the marriage to my wife, Rayma, included taking on a then 9-year-old little girl with an overbite. She's Annelise Beer.
I knew Annelise well before I became her step-father. Enrolled at the Meadowvale Elementary School YMCA program with my daughter, Kelsey, meant seeing Annelise pretty regularly. It was that same YMCA program that brought out a side of Annelise I really had not seen. It was a talent show and all I can say is, Do You Want Fries with That? Annelise, stone-faced as ever, rolled right through the Tim McGraw classic.
Uh, on a side note, fellow Havre de Grace graduate Peter Bethke had a classic moment then, too. If you know Pete, you'll have to ask him.
Anyway, Annelise was clearly not taking over for Faith Hill, but she did a good job. Soon, Annelise was old enough to begin instrumental music. Her love was the trombone, but apparently she didn't have enough air. I still find that hard to believe, but what resulted was a match made in heaven with Annelise and a cello. The cello was a good fit and with the aid of good teaching and lessons, Annelise became pretty good.
Time wore on and the overbite was corrected with those couple of years of braces. What also needed corrected was a few words that Annelise just didn't get right. Here's my favorite. While I was driving Annelise up to HCC for cello playing, we were cruising past the athletic field that had been resurfaced with turf. Out of the blue, Annelise made some comment about the field, noting it as a nerf field. I said, huh, what did you say? The fun began.
Later in middle school, Annelise turned 13 that put her on the Little League Riptide team with me and Kelsey. We had a lot of fun and made memories that will last forever.
It was during those early teen years that Annelise really started to grow, physically, mentally and spiritually.
Though it seemed like she was injured all the time, she played a lot of sports and did quite well in the process. She exceeded my expectations a number of times.
School work came on strong and for someone who just couldn't get that multiplication table down, high school was a good challenge that Annelise met and defeated with much confidence.
Annelise also became a strong leader in her Christian faith. Her leading in FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) was no shock to me.
Now, with Salisbury University looming in the near future, Annelise will make that walk Thursday night in the Havre de Grace High School auditorium.
Annelise, in 10 years I have watched you grow in so many ways. You have grown into a beautiful, smart and proud young lady who I wouldn't trade in a minute. Congratulations on your graduation. I love you and am very happy for you.