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8th Grade Graduation

You are so beautiful to me
Can’t you see
You’re everything I hoped for
You’re everything I need
You are so beautiful
To me…

–From the song by Joe Cocker

This is Juliette on the first day of Kindergarten at Villa Teresa Catholic School, 2003. Last night, we attended her 8th grade graduation from Rosary School. I can’t even begin to tell you how fast the last nine years have gone and how many changes we have all gone through during this time.

For starters, the beloved convent school is closing this July. It makes us so incredibly sad to see it go. Juliette is worried they’re going to tear down her childhood school. The Carmelite Order is an aging order. It really feels like the end of an era. We were really glad to see some of the nuns at the graduation ceremony including one that has been very special to us. Sr. Joseph Marie.

This is Juliette at her 4th-grade graduation, standing with Sr. Joseph Marie and Principal Sr. Veronica. The Carmelite Sisters had a big influence on our family and our decision to put Juliette at Rosary beginning in 5th Grade. Villa was a Pre-K through 4th-grade school.

I moved around so much as a kid, one of my big goals was to put Juliette in one schooland try to keep her there as long as possible. She started at Villa in Pre-K and we stayed all the way through 4th grade, the last grade the school offered. During our time there, many friends came and went, but the nuns were always the same. I kept all of Juliette’s uniforms and this special sweater is in my cedar chest.

This is one of my all-time favorite pictures of my first-born (left). This was taken on her first day of 5th grade. She was preparing to attend Rosary School for the first time and she was so incredibly excited. She was soooo tiny! I loved her big teeth! They’re practically all straight now, as we put braces on her last year. They’ll be coming off soon.

This is Juliette with her friend Archie. They were in Pre-K together at Villa! Here they are as they were yesterday after their graduation from 8th grade. This is exactly what I wanted for her — good friendships formed over many years. It is so sad to me that she along with many of her other classmates are heading in different directions for high school.

Their class of 21 is split equally among three schools – Bishop McGuinness, Mount St. Mary and Harding Fine Arts. All three are really terrific schools. I could have probably have been happy with each one for different reasons, but in the end, we chose McGuinness. We felt like it was the best choice for Juliette given her strengths and interests, but there was still sadness in not picking the other two.

Here are the kids that migrated over from Villa in 5th Grade. The nuns came to see them graduate. This picture shows the pure and beautiful enclave Rosary School on the grounds of St. Francis of Assisi Parish. I think my father would be proud of the choices I’ve made for my kids. I’ve always been comforted by the big bronze statue of Jesus – a reminder of being in the world, but not of it. I hope it makes a difference for my kids.

Juliette with Sr. Joseph Marie. She organized both the science fair and poetry festival at Villa Teresa every year. These activities had a big influence on Juliette, especially science fairs. She won top ratings every single year and for the last two years advanced to competition at BishopMcGuinness and then the University of Central Oklahoma.

Juliette credits Sr. Joseph Marie for her interest in the science fairs. We definitely had some interesting projects over the years from testing the levels of Vitamin C in different orange juices and drinks to collecting all our potato peelings for composting. One year she tested different sunscreens and this year her project covered the curdling rate of various types of milk. This picture (far right) was taken just a little over four years ago.

We decorated the jeep for Juliette’s 8th-grade graduation. She’s walked out into this driveway many mornings to climb into the car and head to school. It’s very hard to believe she could be driving herself soon!

We’ve lived in our prairie bungalow since the fall of 2004, the majority of Juliette’s childhood. This has also been a dream of mine; that my children would grow up in and return to the same house throughout the years. We think about selling this house quite often, though. The upkeep of historic homes can be overwhelming. For most special occasions we hang balloons. These are the Rosary School colors. Happy 8th-grade graduation, Juey!

This is one of Juliette’s best friends and the hardest part about graduation day. They’re going to different high schools. We’ve shed some tears over this, for sure.


I feel so incredibly lucky that Juey was able to attend the same school with Sullivan and Bridgette for two years. This is so rare. Her presence there with them has been a huge blessing to me. I’m really going to miss picking them all up together.

I’m so grateful to Rosary and St. Francis. It’s wonderful how they mark this milestone in the lives of their 8th graders. Some people have questioned the necessity of 8th grade graduation and even think it’s not a big deal. I can kind of understand how someone could formulate that opinion, because we just assume people would and should finish 8th grade, and true “graduation” comes at the end of high school. But, when you’ve been part of a community a long time like we have been with Villa and now Rosary, it only makes sense to celebrate the end of the childhood era and the passageway to adulthood: high school. I truly cannot imagine leaving this place without a big celebration. The graduation mass was very special. Watching all the kids kneel before the cross and Christ and cross themselves before they symbolically head out into the world is a memory I will always cherish.

I must admit, Juliette’s growing up hit me like a ton of bricks last night. She and her classmates aren’t little Pre-K kids enjoying Pajama Day or carrying blankets to school for nap time. They’re young men and women on the verge of adulthood, life.

There is so much I want to say to Juliette has she prepares for high school. These words don’t come easy, but when I figure them all out and put them down on paper I’ll share them with you. For now, I want to congratulate Juliette on her 8th-grade graduation! I am so very proud of you, Juey-with-a-J. The best is yet to be!

Gen X Blog Jennifer Chronicles

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  1. fisher price early learning fun

    I recently came across your blog again have been reading along.
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  2. Andi

    I wish my Mom had captured memories like these while I was growing up! Of course there are photos, but they are stuck in a box somewhere getting dusty as opposed to this living online journal that you can just bookmark and return to. I moved around so much that everything just sort of blends together!

  3. Jennifer James

    @MOM – Thanks, Mom!!

    @YOGI – I do think the graduation ritual is not out of place for 8th grade. Thanks, Yogi!

    @KARIN – Thank YOU for stopping by and sharing in it with me. I never thought about it being a slice of Americana. I envy your world perspective now that you live in France! And, yes, change is the only constant. [sigh]

    @GRANBEE – Thank you! Life IS a blessing.

  4. granbee

    Jen, enormous congratulations to Juliette for this wonderful accomplishment of eighth grade graduations. What a wonderful set of memories you have capture with your camera here. I know all friends and family are feeling very blessed this week!

  5. Yogi♪♪♪

    There you go making me tear up again. I love all the smiles in your pics from Juliette, her classmates, and the teachers. What a great place and how wonderful you realize the blessings that you and your family have had with the schools.

    Son graduated this year from 8th grade, no graduation though and I think it’s needed.

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