Why I Love LDSHE Graduation

by Tina Huntsman
When I attended LDSHE for the first time (as a mom of a soon-to-be kindergartener, a toddler, and a baby), my head and heart were full of many questions. How could I make sense of the frequent feelings of inspiration to teach my children in my own home? What would homeschooling look like? Would my kids turn out okay, or would I ruin them by making this unorthodox choice for their education? What about socialization?!? (Oh! My ignorance and naivete! 😉

By the afternoon of the first day, my heart had softened, and my fears had subsided. I was feeling hope. I had listened to experienced moms talk about their routines and schedules. I had enjoyed lunchtime conversations with moms a few years ahead of me in their homeschooling journeys. I had heard a panel of high school-aged homeschool kids express love for their moms and sincere gratitude that homeschooling had given them the opportunity to study with siblings and friends according to their interests.

Although I attended the conference without my family, I learned much by observing the other families. At the family dance, patient youth twirled their jubilant younger siblings around the dance floor. The kids at the Dads and Kids’ activities were happy and playful. The parents seemed like tight-knit teams, and the dads spoke respectfully of their wives’ dedication to their family’s educational pursuits. By Friday evening, I was excited to attend the LDSHE graduation ceremony. I personally knew no one who would walk across the ceremonial stage, but I had sensed greatness in the youth I’d met throughout the week, and I was curious to see what the capstone evening of their homeschooling career would look like.

I was fully unprepared for what I would experience in that auditorium. Every other graduation I had ever attended—including my own graduations!—had been miserable. Audience members sat on hard bleachers for what seemed like hours, squinting to find their special graduate among the sea of black robes. Everyone grimaced as announcers mispronounced name after name. I expected a similarly painful event.

But the LDSHE graduation was so different! I found it to be an exquisitely intimate event that honored each graduate and the unique families that had helped raise and shape them. A talented pianist who would graduate that night played the prelude. A handful of skilled singers, also graduating, sang a musical number. The group of a dozen or so graduates appeared to be good friends even though they were spread throughout the eastern U.S. and had been together for only three days at the conference. They appeared to be a tight-knit, supportive group. As each graduate was announced, I loved hearing the statement written by the parents, hearing of that student’s future plans, hearing a quote or scripture that motivated them, and then hearing that graduate’s advice to their siblings and younger friends. It was such a powerful, family-centered event, and I loved being able to see the individuality of each graduate. Tears ran unabashedly throughout the whole evening.

This May, I will again attend the LDSHE graduation event. But this year, I will do so with a new flutter of emotion. This year, I will be graduating my oldest child. As I anticipate the events of that evening, I am grateful. Grateful to have been led by God to this unique path of parenting and educating my child. Grateful for her patience with me as we learned together how to navigate the journey of these past 18 years. Grateful for fellow homeschooling families who helped show me the way and continue to walk alongside my family and me. Grateful to send my daughter off into the next phase of her life with a graduation ceremony that will honor and celebrate who she is, what she values, and what God will call her to do in the coming years.