This past week marked the end of the school year in Mexico. It also was a time of clausuras for a number of children in our neighborhood. Clausura is the term used here for graduation, and it means closing in the sense of completion of, for instance, high school, and and also closing ceremony. Right in our corner of the colonia, there were three people who finished secondary school, one who finished her bachillerato, the level after secondary school, and one little guy who finished kinder -- the two years before primaria. We went to the ceremony for Areli who finished her bachillerato, the three years post-secondary school which prepares kids for higher education, and to her party.We also went to her party and the others' parties, too. Areli, whom I've written about on the blog before, has decided she wants to be called Areli, her middle name, rather than Blanca.
When I first got to know Areli, she was a sad child of 13 who had threatened never to go back to school after a bout with the flu. She had been at the receiving end of bullying because she came from one of the poorest homes in the community, had no extended family here and, perhaps the crowning blow, was extremely bright. After managing to test out of all secondary school requirements except math, she ended up transferring to the somewhat bigger and less intensely local school in San Marcos for her bachillerato. She is now a lovely 18 year old who has just graduated from the bachillerato program in San Marcos and is going to start training to teach in an underserved rural area as part of a program that is like perhaps a combination of Vista and Teach for America in the US. She will serve for a year, possibly two, supported by the community she is assigned to with the government providing her with a scholarship for university or other study when she has finished.
So we went to the clausura as her invited guests while her mother stayed home to prepare the post-ceremony fiesta. We took pictures so Doña Viki, Areli's mom, and Rosa, her younger sister, and other guests at the post-ceremony fiesta could get a good idea of what happened.
Below you see the opening ceremonies in the large covered space which serves the San Marcos schools for ceremonies and sports. On the left are the students in the lower levels of the bachillerato program; at the back you see some of the white-covered chairs awaiting the graduates with faculty behind them; to the right are some of the family and friends.
The color guard and the singing of the national anthem.
The graduates enter. Areli is third young woman from the right among those entering. As you can see, they are all dressed in shades of purple and lavender, a bit distorted on the screen I suspect, formal and semi-formal dresses for the young women, ties and shirts for the young men. No robes here. They come in to slowish dance music and walk in rhythm and in step.
The school's dance group presented two different dances. The first, a melange of music from the fifties to the present. They dropped their skirts at one point to dance in shorts of a modest length. Shorts are quite new here. Tight clothes aren't. But somehow modesty prevails for most of the girls even when they wear tight pants and low-cut tops.
Areli in the second row, middle, smiling.
Areli was a member of a singing group at the school that blossomed over her time there. At this point, it not only performs at the school but in regional competitions.
The speakers' and honored guests' dais, at the front of the ceremonies. The speeches stressed the need to work hard for family, community and country. Some points included the importance of not giving up in the face of adversity because indeed there would be adversity. And counter to that, the fact that hope was the best defense against adversity. One of my favorite parts was when a speaker said that the students were never alone because they were surrounded and supported by all of history and only had to look around to find Socrates and Jesus and Leonardo and a whole bunch of other people who could provide them with comfort and guidance and ideas and hope.
If you look hard, you can see that AREli is getting her diploma. Another student is walking towards her comadre -- her sponsor who presents her with flowers and sometimes a gift and escorts her to have her picture taken and then back to her seat.
After the ceremony, we went back to Areli's house for the party. More on parties later.