Friday, May 26, 2017 was a very special evening as 162 Arizona homeschool senior high and 35 junior high graduates were honored. The auditorium of Dream City Church was filled with more than 2,600 family members, friends, and fellow homeschoolers who came to cheer on these young men and women who have been lovingly taught at home by their parents.
The festivities began with prelude music performed by four of the graduates: Naomi Galloway, Noah Galloway, Serena Fornay, and Madeline Peltzer. Following a warm welcome by our Master of Ceremonies, David Monk, the procession of the graduates was accompanied by Rebecca Tappendorf on piano. It’s always so thrilling when the graduates enter the auditorium and walk to their seats, passing all of the parents and loved ones, smiling and excited.
Kurt Peltzer, father of graduate Madeline Peltzer, opened the evening with an encouraging invocation. Throughout the evening, special music was performed by senior high graduates who had auditioned and were selected for their skill and musical ability. The music review committee was hard-pressed to narrow down the selection due to the abundance of excellent submissions to choose from this year. Abigail Cook, Hayden Dawson, siblings Carissa Powe and Levi Powe, Amy Llusco, and Nathan Kidd delighted the audience with their musical presentations.
Graduates were inspired and challenged by the commencement address message delivered by Matthew du Mée, an Arizona homeschool graduate himself who participated in the AFHE graduation years ago. Matthew graduated summa cum laude from Patrick Henry College and graduated with honors from Harvard Law School. As a husband, homeschooling father of two himself now, and Unit Chief for the Consumer Fraud Litigation Unit under Attorney General Mark Brnovich, Matthew encouraged graduates to pursue truth in an increasingly “post-truth” world, and to show love by sacrificing their own needs and desires for the good of others. He also emphasized the need for truth and love to go hand-in-hand, and urged the graduates to speak the truth in love and be honest in their relationships.
This year’s speech contest winner, Jesse Friedman, gave a refreshing senior address where he shared three things homeschooling has taught him. First, anyone can start making a mark on the world and homeschooling allows for incredible opportunities no matter your age. Second, homeschooling gives you room to find out who you are without having to follow the crowd. “Instead of striving to be accepted, I strive to be exceptional.” And third, homeschoolers get the distinct pleasure of being taught by the people that love them most. Jesse concluded by thanking the parents for their crazy dedication to their kids and reminded the graduates in the words of the great Dr. Seuss, “You’re off to great places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, so … get on your way!”
Following the photo montage video of senior high graduates, which is a special treat each year, AFHE Board Member Peter Gentala did an excellent job reading the names of 197 graduates as they crossed the stage to receive their certificates and have their pictures taken. The ceremony concluded with the presentation of junior high and senior high graduates and a benediction delivered by Andrew Casteel, father of graduate Joel Casteel. The graduates exited to the lobby where they were greeted by family and friends for a time of fellowship and refreshments. The 25th annual AFHE Graduate Recognition Ceremony was an inspiring evening reminding us of the amazing gift that homeschooling is. We were blessed to gather together with our beautiful community to celebrate!
Mark your calendars for the 2018 AFHE Graduation Friday, May 25, 2018, Dream City Church, Phoenix .
The graduation committee did an outstanding job putting together this year’s ceremony. We’d like to express our gratitude for the faithful service of these wonderful women and men.
Nancy Manos, Executive Director and Graduation Coordinator
Simona Ispas, Assistant Coordinator and Volunteer Coordinator
Kelly Andrews, Gown Coordinator
Valerie Monk, Music Coordinator and Rehearsal Coordinator
Sherry McKown, Hospitality Coordinator
Sheri Orr, Lobby Manager
Jeff Orr, Usher Captain
Shamway and Jacki Lo, Video Montage Creator
We are grateful to the many volunteers who spent the day helping with set-up senior high caps and gowns, hospitality, ushers, handing out programs, clean up, and so much more!
Dream City Church – Their staff and facility are top notch!
Liz Beck, LB Dezigns – Program design and layout
Rebecca Tappendorf – Pianist
MVP Studios – Photography
Tide Dry Cleaners – Gown steaming