Austin's Beach Home School Graduation Celebration

It's hard to believe we have graduated our 2nd son from our home education program!  The years progress ever so quickly and it seems like yesterday that this young man was tagging along while we planted flowers, hatched butterflies and did all the fun hands-on learning with Zach, his older brother.  Those years were wonderful years BUT the years ahead are filled with anticipation of what the Lord will use him to do.
Senior Pictures taken April 2014 Mantanzas Inlet, Flagler Beach and Marineland

Upon his request, no 'formal' ceremony was held; no speeches, no diploma presentation or no walking in cap and gown.  His desire for his high school graduation,{and completing his first year of college classes} was to relax {before his summer college classes began - just 4 days after his celebration was held}.  He wanted to enjoy time on the beach with his friends, family and mentors.  So, the planning happened over a 4 week period, he made his guest list, postcard invites were mailed and the preparations began.  It was to be more than "just" a beach day so here's what we planned for...

Two 10'x10' canopies were used for the food and drink area.  Sand bags were tied to each upright to hold them down due to the wind.  I had a banner made at Vista Print to mark the occasion and attached to the rear of the canopy.
The banner image as the one above is not entirely visible due to the wind.  ;)

A food area under covered canopies, another canopy for shade for those of us that have an aversion to the sun {not wanting too much vitamin D...worse the sunburned skin}, a shaded play area for the little ones {mainly his little sisters} and activities to make it memorable.

Shade to keep food and drinks covered; shade to keep guests from sunburning; shade to keep little ones comfortable as they played in the blow up pool we brought...which is also a great way to keep littles away from the deep and rough ocean.  Plus we brought additional umbrellas to create other shaded sitting areas.

Top left:  "Sand Pudding" made by Ann D..  Little Teddy Grahams laid on Fruit Strips and toothpick umbrellas embellished this fun dessert which fit the beach theme.  Top right:  "Tropical Fruit" made by Sarah W. was a creative addition to the fruit tray, using stacked pineapples and palm shoots to create the tropical tree.  Bottom left:  Pizza was our entree - not a Pinterest idea, but one that worked for this venue.  In the bottom right of that picture you will see some of the candy ideas which were placed in beach sand pails with shovels used for scooping - "Pool Noodles" - Twizzlers, "Bait" - Swedish Fish, "Inner Tubes" - Peach Sugar Coated Candy Rings  Bottom right:  Forks rolled in napkins with a candy lifesaver attached to twine...the colors and the lifesaver fit the beach theme, too.

I found lots of fun ideas on Pinterest with a beach theme and a graduation twist, working to combine the two.  It was decided pizza would be an easy entree, delivered to the beach and easy to serve.  Drinks to stay hydrated and fun snacks were planned as well.  Those invited were given the option to bring a sweet {or healthy} treat to add to the food table.  I utilized lots of bright colored buckets/beach pails, shovels for serving and totes to put all the food items in.  Each item was given a beachy name, like "FL Sunshine Cookies" for lemon cookies that were brought by Liv S. or "Tropical Fruit" for the pineapple fruit tower/tray that Zach's girlfriend, Sarah, brought or "Sand Pudding" for this fun pudding dessert that a dear friend made, which really fit the theme.  Labels were glued to complimenting fun colored card stock then laminated to keep the ink from running if it were to get wet.  Fish nets were used on the blue covered tables for added decoration.

Top:  Drink Station - Bottled waters with numbers written on the lids before chilling on ice to help people keep track of their bottle "Arctic Ice Water"; Ice Cold Lemonade "Sunny Lemonade"; Sweet Tea "Arctic Ice Southern Sweet Tea" were the labels made for each container.  Cups were placed in a plastic tub with a permanent marker for guests to write their names on their cup.  Ice was kept in a small styrofoam cooler "Arctic Ice".
Middle:  Items needing to be kept cool were placed in the tropical blow up food keeper.
Bottom:  Sand pails, totes and shovels were used for some of the desserts brought.  "Take a Dip" - TX Salsa and chips; "Sand Pudding" - vanilla pudding with Oreo topping; "Pearls of the Sea" - donut holes; "Life Preservers" - mini donuts; "FL Sunshine Cookies" - lemon cookies

Now many ideas were planned, but unfortunately a lot of the decorations had to be nixed due to gusty coastal wind that day.  After I recovered from the disappointment, the wind was a blessing in disguise as it kept us all cool and kept the flying bugs away!  That's a win for the wind!  :)

The day was just what he had wanted; pizza, the beach and friends.  There was not a lack to do between volleyball, bodyboarding, kayaking {that was fun to watch with the rough surf}, and more.  Plenty of time to sit and chat, relax and enjoy the beautiful day the Lord provided.

Prayer over the day and a blessing for the food then everyone found their spot and enjoyed a beach meal together.

A blessing to have my dad come and spend several hours helping us celebrate.  He enjoyed seeing the kids play and the nice breeze certainly made it more enjoyable.

Great friends to help Austin celebrate his marked achievement and excitement for what the Lord directs him to do next. Volleyball was a lot of fun and everyone that wanted to play, did...a great game where age is not a factor.

With ample shade, the sweet time of fellowship held relaxation and enjoyable conversations.  Thankful for friends that were near and those that traveled from Mims and New Symrna Beach, coming to help mark his celebration.  What a gift friendship is - Austin was blessed.
The only thing I was able to put out for his Grad table was a basket with colored card stock 4"x6" cards with colored pens.  This was out for guests to write words of encouragement, favorite memories of Austin or Scripture exhortations and will be placed in his graduation book, along with his Senior pictures and pictures from the celebration.  I had hoped to put out the card box I made, a framed Senior picture {the one seen at the top of this post}, his home school diploma and a display with pictures from over the years, BUT...the wind kept all that from happening.

To finish our time, guests were sent home with another beach theme idea found on Pinterest and improvised for Austin's event.  Beach shovels filled with Salt Water Taffy and tropical fans {although the fan really wasn't needed on this day ;) }  The gift of taffy was placed in clear bags, tied with twine and had a label attached that read, "I 'dig' your friendship and support!  Thanks for coming!"

Basket of graduation favors - Salt Water Taffy filled sand shovels...and paper fans {which on this day with the great breeze was not needed, but still a gift that fit the theme}

I think the day will hold a special place in Austin's heart as he pursues his future goals of one day joining the US Coast Guard.  I am sure he will think back to the fun and fellowship that the beach graduation celebration held for him.  As his parents, we give thanks for each person who has encouraged, prayed and supported him over the course of his life...and we are blessed to have spent the time with each of you that came.

By His Grace,

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