In June my 5 year-old grandson, Lane, graduated from preschool and will enter Kindergarten in just a few weeks. The program and ceremony lasted about one and half hours. It was a large group of children.
Like everyone else, I wanted to get photos of the event and I own a very nice 300mm lens so I can zoom in pretty close. There was still one big problem. I learned from my granddaughter’s graduation the year before that the parents are very rude when it comes to photographing their children. Smart phones have created some dumb users. There were so many parents standing in front of the children trying to take a photo or worse yet, video, that no one else could see or hear what was going on. I agree, I want a good photo or video but not at the expense of the other parents, grandparents and guests.
I have attended two preschool graduations here in Ghana in the last week. Preschool here includes KG1 (4 year olds) and KG2 (5 year olds). Graduates will enter Class 1. We rushed from one graduation out to Akramaman village hoping to catch their graduation but the traffic was just too bad—not to mention the roads.
Graduation #1 was Glorious Kids preschool. It is a private international school celebrating their 20ith anniversary. The proprietress is Wilhelmina Odum whom I have known for more than 10 years. I was privileged to be the Guest Speaker. The theme was “The Role of the Stakeholder in the Education of the Child.” It was held in a church auditorium. It was quite a big event. It lasted 4 hours and started 1 hour late. Again, I noticed where photos are concerned, Smart Phones and I-Pads have created rude and not so smart people. I would tell you more about the event but I could not see what was going on.
Graduation #2 was Children of Mary owned by our own Mercia Laryea. I have been at rehearsals this week and I was all set with my Nikon to take some photo and video. I sat on the first row. Most people sat near the back. The program began with prayer and a welcome address. The Chairman was introduced then the children began to present their various recitals and dances. Once again, up jumped the parents, sibling, professional photographers and videographers. I refused to jump up and join them. Many people started yelling that they could not see. Eventually the videographer that was hired to do the event told everyone they had to move to the side-it worked for about 20 seconds, besides he was standing right in front, not crouched down low so everybody could see.
I am truly sorry that I missed the Akramaman graduation. In the past, the only photographic annoyance has been the one or two professional photographers who do not have telephoto lenses. As more people in the villages acquire phones, has the graduation photographic landscape changed? I hope not. I did arrive in time to photograph the teachers in their beautiful dresses and the wonderful crafts done by the children. I hear they were for sale and the parents purchased many.
The real joy for me is that 26 children graduated this year. The graduation took place without Mercia or I. The P.T.A. and the Head Mistress handled everything. When we built the school 7 years ago the plan was that the village would sustain it, not Ghanaian Mothers’ Hope. We do not own it. We do not run it but in the past they have been dependent on us. I feel like our first child, St. Paul’s Preschool, Akramaman, has finally graduated into it’s own. Now if I could only solve the Smart Phone=Dumb Users problem.
Here is a link to see a short (2 minute) video of the graduation at Children of Mary-I needed to crop every photo and video so you don’t have to look at the back of the people standing in front of me.