by Jane Swanson
[ We've been on vacation and hope to be back on schedule next
week with the articles of the week! This week, we'd like to feature an article
by one of the Christian Homeschool Forum members, Jane Swanson. The Swansons
have homeschooled their five children for many years and their oldest son
graduated this month. We believe this account will inspire and encourage you
all! --Tamara Eaton]
A Homeschool Graduation By Jane
Sweet baby faces, little boy smiles, and young man grins, in gold
picture frames, greeted guests from the tops of twenty square tables. Baskets
lined with purple napkins held goldfish cracker snack assortments while
napkins cheering on the class of 1997 sat boldly on the side. Tabletops
sprinkled with metallic colored *97*'s and gold cushioned chairs also helped
proclaim the commencement exercises of Swanson Christian Academy.
An Awards table showcased trophies, plaques, and medals earned by the
graduate. Examples of course work mingled with the awards and a Creative
Memories school year book. Guests milled around the table and signed the
yearbook with exhortations such as: JARED-GO WITH GOD AND FOR GOD! LOVE YOU
Helium-filled balloons of purple and gold topped by a silver star
balloon imprinted with *Congratulations Graduate* swayed on each side
of the platform. A felt quilt edged in purple and gold triangles was hung from
the center stage. The many colored squares and rectangles sported different
aspects of the young graduate's life. Boldly stating life verses, school
banners, uniform numbers, basketball and soccer logos, it provided a perfect
backdrop for the graduation festivities.
Hearty greetings from Principal John Swanson on May 31st, 1997 at 2:00PM
began the ceremonies. Speaking emotionally to the many parts of the Swanson's
lives gathered together in that one room, he thanked them for coming.
Descending the steps of the platform he joined his wife and their other four
children to welcome the graduate.
Pomp & Circumstance, as played by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
on CD, filled the air as the purple-gowned graduate strode into the room. Gold
cords and tassel swung in time to Sir Edward Elgar's march. Three red roses
were carried proudly by the graduate as he approached his waiting family.
Bending slightly, he offered the first red rose to his seven year old sister,
Joelle. Kissing her on the cheek, he moved to the next sibling in line. Ten
year old Jordan blushed embarrassingly as his older brother shook his hand.
Another red rose was bestowed upon his thirteen year old sister, Julia, as she
stood on tiptoe to offer her kiss. A handshaking scenario and chest thumping
was the manly greeting to his 16 year old brother, Justin. The final red rose
was sweetly presented to his mother accompanied by a loving embrace while his
father was greeted with a handshake and hug. Ascending the three steps to the
platform, the graduate stood awaiting the final cresando before seating
himself on a high stool.
Korean pastor Min Chung was introduced and offered the opening
invocation. He thanked the Lord for the gift of Himself and the blessing of
Jared Paul Swanson, the graduate. It was a heart-felt prayer that graciously
led the way for the rest of the program to bring great honor to our God.
Julia stepped up to the platform to read the introduction. She explained
the founding and purpose of Swanson Christian Academy. Sharing verses from
Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and Proverbs 22:6 she delivered the message that our school
has focused on understanding the individual bent of each student, developing a
committment to academic excellence, acquiring a lifestyle of learning and
above all maintaining a sincere love and devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ.
Introducing his basketball coach and friend, Jared shared that Coach
Pico was like a second father to him. A man who had taught him, on and off the
court, that Jesus Christ was most important. Mr. Tim Pico began his address by
focusing on the type of character that Jared portrayed in the midst of intense
pressure during basketball games. He gave a *wish-list* of what he hoped for
Jared while music played in the background to accompany his comments. With wit
and candor, he expressed that this was a young man who would accomplish great
things for the cause of Christ.
"What can I say about this next speaker?" Jared began.
"He's like a big kid." With a broad smile and obvious affection
Jared introduced Andy Thomas, assistant basketball coach and family ministries
pastor. Andy blessed all by his comments and poem. He entitled the poem _ All
About Shoes_, in reference to the store where Jared is employed. Each family
member's shoes and sandals for Jesus were displayed on the stage as he made
reference to Jared's part in leading or following. Ending his address with
Steve Green's song _Find Us Faithful_, Andy left few dry eyes.
The Charge to the Graduate was powerfully delivered by the principal and
father. He exhorted his son to: Fix his eyes on the prize, Fill his mind with
His Word, Find companions who are strong in their love for the Lord, and
Faithfully serve Jesus by serving people. It was a tender salute from father
Jared stood solemnly in his purple robe and delivered his commencement
speech. He gave a stirring message of the Lord's work in his life. A small
"Not only am I graduating from high school, I am graduating from
home school. For 13 years my mother has given her life to teaching me the
basics of education. Today is as much a graduation for her as it is for me.
She taught me how to read. She taught me how to write and she taught me math.
But most importantly, she taught me about my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Both she and my father have shared with me the miracle of Christ and how he
paid for my sins on the Cross, and for that I am eternally grateful. Through
their teaching, they have not only prepared me academically for life, but they
have taught me how to be a man of God in this secular world. I have received
an education that I could not have received anywhere else. I have learned how
important my family is, and how to face the world with all it's challenges and
It was a tribute to his parents and they were humble before the Lord.
An Arrow Award was then presented by his mother. As the first arrow
pulled from the Swanson quiver, Jared was reminded that the Lord had given him
a target to hit and that he was released to do His work. A touching moment of
giving a child his wings.
Presentation of the Diploma was next on the program. It was read aloud
and presented with a round of applause from the audience. As the commotion
settled, the melody of Watercolour Ponies by Wayne Watson filled the room. A
video medley featuring the graduate from birth to senior year brought many
A closing prayer from Jared's pastor beseeched the Lord to continue the
good work that He had begun. To bring truth from Jared's lips to his
generation as he preached the gospel. A prayer of hope and exhortation that
encouraged all children of the King to use their lives unto His service.
With a strengthened heart, Jared stood to be presented as the graduating
class of 1997 from Swanson Christian Academy. Moving his gold tassel from
right to left on his mortarboard hat, the applause thundered throughout the
room. For a few moments, he watched proudly as all assembled stood and
acknowledged his achievement. Then he removed his hat and tossed it into the
Let the reception begin!
Chunks of frozen gold punch sat solidly in bowls. Refusing to melt, the
ice mountains floated stubbornly in pools of gingerale. Thirsty family and
friends clustered around the purple and gold decorated tables and filled their
plates with food. Chocolate chip, molasses, and peanut butter cookies
disappeared quickly from mounded piles on loaded trays. Pudding cake breads
arranged in flower wheels of butterscotch, lemon, chocolate, and strawberry
were besieged with reaching fingers. Cheese and fruit trays also offered their
delicacies to all who had come to celebrate.
As music filtered from the speakers lending the atmosphere an air of
gaiety, the proud parents caught each other's eye. The unspoken message was "and
let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we shall reap if we do
not grow weary." Galatians 6:9
Graduation Poem for Jared Paul Swanson
Life gives you many chances
To follow or to lead.
People share their lives with you
They all will plant their seeds.
Shoes are all around you
As you live from day to day.
They choose their paths by what they see.
We pray the narrow way.
Joelle's shoes have followed you.
She's watching you, big brother.
And though sometimes you wonder
She won't trade you for another.
Jordan's shoes are all worn out.
Their chance for life is dim.
They're worn because he follows you
Or cuz you're chasing him.
Julia's shoes are busy too.
She's dancing on her toes.
Priceless value is a brother
Listening as she grows.
Justin's shoes are high tops.
Basketball's his wife.
Your friendship helps prepare him
To play the game of life.
Your Mom and Dad's shoes lead the way.
You follow close behind.
They feed you, teach you, raise you, love you
Christ they've helped you find.
Your parent's shoes are out ahead.
They want the best for you.
So follow close behind, they'll help you
Know just what to do.
You've led and followed many shoes
Not on the stage today.
Family and friends alike
Have helped map out the way.
God has said your family
Priority should be.
But look beyond the shoes of man
And sandals you will see.
The Word has often taught us
Of the price that you must pay.
You must surrender all - it's black and white
There is no gray.
More than family, more than friends
Step up your pace, walk hand in hand
With Christ who wears His sandals
Leaving footprints in the sand.
So you see - Christ leads us to the cross
He paid our dues.
And life is worth it all
If you strive to fill His shoes!
by Andrew Thomas ( copyright 1997)
We appreciate the Swanson Family allowing us to share this article and poem
with you this week. I first read this account and poem when I was right in the
middle of preparing mandatory progress reports and it served to remind me once
more of what a precious privilege it has been to homeschool our children--it
has been worth it all!
"And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord;
and great shall be the peace of thy children."