Graduation Slide Show: Gather, Hunt, Select, Kill, Do-Over, Done

slide show, CWS Rose Ceremony


My teen graduated from high school this past Sunday, June 16th—at 2 p.m., to be exact. I might have mentioned it a time or 2,000. Graduation week was marked by a visit from my road warrior parents, a rose ceremony, and, of course, the actual graduation day. It was also fraught with all kinds of details, like finishing the graduation slide show I’d agreed to pull together in less than three weeks. I’ll share and post about all the different parts of graduation, but it seems fitting to start with the slide show saga.

Gather –  The first step in assembling a graduation slide show is to request pictures from teachers, parents, and the graduating class. I made my request, and everyone was very forthcoming. Pictures began to flow in by e-mail, Facebook, text message, and doorstep. Lots, and lots, and lots of pictures. I probably should have been more specific about what kind of pictures I needed rather than saying, “Send pictures that make sense.” And I probably should have taken into account that not all parents are technology savvy and explained early on that 25 pictures could not be sent by text message and that pictures with staples did not scan well.

Hunt: The seniors were terrific at sharing flash drives and granting me the privilege of perusing their Facebook albums. The average senior girl’s Facebook albums have anywhere from 600 to 5,000 pictures to choose from, so the picture hunting was plentiful. Their pictures were well organized, and I quickly found what I needed once I recognized album titles like “prawhm” and learned to read upside down—*~ɹɐǝʎ ǝɹoɯoɥdos~*. After I culled what I needed from the girls, I moved on to the boys’ albums, which consisted of about 20 random pictures mostly shared with them by the girls. Parents sent pictures ranging from their wedding pictures to first potty pictures, along with assorted early childhood and baby pictures of their graduate.

Kill: One would imagine that if you volunteer to spend hours creating a graduation slide show that includes and represents every graduating senior, the parents and teens would bend over backwards to be helpful—and you would be mostly correct. Both the graduating class and their parents responded to my every text message, question, and request with lightning speed; expressed constant appreciation; and offered ongoing help. But there is always the one parent you want to run over with your car. Several times. In this case, it was a mom who has a long history of making her problems my crisis—a manipulative mom who knows I won’t exclude her kid no matter how frustrating and uncooperative she is. Going forward, I wish this mom the best of karma.

Select:  Once the pictures were gathered, the sorting process began. I created a spreadsheet, logged the pictures by category, made difficult choices between pictures, and was pleased when my spreadsheet confirmed that every graduate was fairly represented in every picture category. I felt good. And then my old nemesis, math, burst my bubble by insisting I do a little simple math. I totaled the number of pictures I had selected, multiplied it by the amount of time each picture would be shown (four seconds), and realized the slide show would run about 45 minutes longer than our allotted 15 minutes. I just hate math.

Choose and Delete: I had to go back to the spreadsheet and delete more pictures. How do you choose between one kid holding an alligator and another kid holding an alligator? You don’t. You make other parents do it. I sent sets of pictures to other parents and insisted they pick their favorites. We ended up with all the gator pictures but managed to delete enough pictures to stay within the 15-minute time frame if I increased the pictures’ speed to three seconds, which seemed to be the logical choice at the time.

Wrap Up: On the Saturday before graduation, the slide show was complete. Don’t believe everything you read. The pictures were selected and in order, and the music was chosen and matched the transitions. The picture background was created, which was necessary because the pictures were so many different sizes. It was time to watch the slide show in its entirety, put it on a flash drive, and call it DONE. I hit play at the same time my teen walked into the room, heard the country music I’d selected to play during the first couple of minutes of the slide show, and saw the background I had created behind the pictures. “Mom,” he exclaimed, as I pushed pause, “nobody in my class likes country music, and why did you choose those background colors?” Fast-forwarding through the drama that ensued, I sent him out of the room and watched the rest of the slide show. I wasn’t happy. Three seconds was too short for each picture, the music in one section didn’t feel right, and I was worried about my one country music selection that my graduate was sure everyone would hate. And why the hell didn’t I use black or white as the background instead of the school colors? I did the only logical thing—I took the slide show to my sweet mother, who had arrived earlier in the week.

Do-Over: OK, it wasn’t a complete do-over. Let’s be real; it was 7 p.m. the night before graduation. My mother watched the slide show and promised me everyone would love it. I knew she wouldn’t lie to me. But I didn’t love it, so we talked about some changes. The background was festive and appropriate for a graduation slide show. The opening song lyrics, despite being country, fit the tone of the pictures. But the slides were flying by too fast, so I decided to go back to my original plan and show each picture for four seconds. This would increase the slide show by seven minutes, but who really cared? Certainly not the parents in the audience and not the graduating seniors. If it was a little long for treasured invited guests, so what? Since changing the slide-show speed would mean the music would need to be reworked, I could take the song I didn’t like out of the mix and replace it with a different song. All it would take would be hours.

Mercury in Retrograde: Graduation morning arrived, and the slide show was downloaded on my computer, a flash drive, and a backup flash drive. I had no intention of taking any chances that one of my devices or the school computer would experience a technical glitch, which is always more of a possibility when Mercury is retro (June 7 – July 2).

Showtime: Graduation began (more about that momentous occasion in the next post), and the slide show was shown early on in the program. I held my breath for 22 minutes. Halfway through, my mom looked over at me. Of course she knew she’d been right—the slide show was playing flawlessly to an audience that was laughing, crying, and awing. They loved it!

Done: The last slide played, and I let out my breath and smiled. The slide show was the gift I’d intended it to be to the community we loved and had been a part of for 17 years.

Would you like to watch the slide show? Disclaimer: It has a country song, the background is colorful, and it’s 22 minutes long. Feel free to use the fast forward key. The gator pictures are at about 6:25 and go on for awhile.

Chicago Waldorf School – 2014 Slide Show from Katybeth on Vimeo.

By the way, my teen lived to graduate on Sunday, and when I questioned him about the country music selection the next day, he informed me that nobody had noticed any of the music.

More graduation glory and angst coming to Odd soon. Next up El Morno.

Odd Loves Company ,

18 thoughts on “Graduation Slide Show: Gather, Hunt, Select, Kill, Do-Over, Done

  1. What a gift you have and what a gift you gave. I love this song. Perfect parent/child wedding dance!

    • Thank you! And I’m glad you like the song. Mmmm, maybe I will insist that Cole and I dance to it at his wedding. Poetic justice. ♥

  2. Wow, you did an outstanding job on this slide show, Katybeth — no wonder you were tapped to coordinate it! (I’m not sure, but I think when Domer graduated, we all did our own kid’s pictures — NOT an easy task in this digital age, but easier than trying to be fair to everybody else’s kids, ha!)
    Baby alligators are kind of cute, aren’t they? Cuter is Cole modeling a lacy bra!
    Loved seeing photos from New Orleans — brings back a LOT of memories.
    Speaking of memories, this is a gem. Thanks for sharing (and yes, I did listen to the music, but I didn’t find it offensive!)
    Congrats again to Cole on the momentous occasion!

    • Thank you. Being fair is hard especially when your kids grandparents remind you that they traveled over 1300 miles to see their only grandson graduate and insist their grandson should be in every shot. The kids loved NOLA. They enjoyed some of the culture on and off Bourbon street and all of them looked forward to going back and spending more time—probably eating if I know this group.

  3. Enjoyed and watched the entire show despite only knowing one of the kids – indirectly. The music was great especially the Stones. These kids sure packed a lot into 4 years. I admire their chaperones and was glad to see they were fed plenty of ice cream.
    See you on El Morno.

    • Thank you Mike. I’m glad you noticed the music. I asked the kids and parents for some musical choices and the Stones topped the list. And your right the kids go, do and experience so many things first hand. The trust and bond between the kids and their advisors is an important part of their class work. Ice cream, oysters, lobster, crêpes. . .this group loved to eat.

  4. Well done Katybeth! For not only raising an awesome kid but, for all that you have do for his entire class. You captured their memories beautifully in this video. Congrats to the all the graduates and their families. <3

    • Thank you so much. I love our Waldorf community and this class was very special to me for a lot of reasons so the effort was worth it.

  5. Excellent work on the video! You will be a difficult mom volunteer to replace. I’d be exhausted, too….
    Looking forward to more stories & pictures!
    Take another nap….zzzzzzzzzzzzz.

    • Thank you. Loving pictures helped make the putting together the slide show (overall) a lot of fun.
      Naps and early bedtimes have been a priority this week. Cole graduated just in time, I am past the point of being able to pull an all nighter and recover the next day with a nap.

  6. What an absolutely precious video, and what cute kids. I think I even saw a photo of Cole in his Panama hat in Hawaii. Gosh, you did and excellent job, Katybeth!

    • Thank you. The kids are very likeable. You sure did see a picture of Cole in his Panama hat! It goes where he goes.

  7. Loved your editing and the whole video. Only, where was Miss Marcowitz ( know the spelling is wrong) but the teacher that went all the way through with them? She was shorter than me.

    • Thank you! Mrs M. shows up at the 9:04 and 17:38 marker. You can fast forward the slideshow by moving the bar at the bottom of the slideshow screen You might need to put your cursor at the bottom of the screen to see it.

  8. Pingback: Graduation - Chicago Waldorf School Class of 2014 - Odd Loves Company

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