Girls say ‘farewell high school, hello world’

DAVID BERGELAND/Durango Herald

Friends Paige Serzen, Jordan Warren, and Megan Curry, all 18, took the opportunity to catch up at the Durango High School Senior Girls Tea at the Henry Strater Theater on Monday.

Our society doesn’t have many rites of passage for young people beyond the first driver’s license and first legal alcoholic beverage. But graduation from high school is a big one, and the mothers and female teachers at Durango High School have made a tradition of guiding the senior class girls through the transition.

It all happens at the Senior Girls Tea, which was held Monday at the Henry Strater Theatre. Anyone who was downtown that afternoon saw a bevy ... make that bevies ... of beauties all decked out in spring frocks and hats for the event. Now you know what was going on.

I’m becoming more inclined to credit the people responsible for organizing events early in the piece, because none of the rest would have happened without them. In the tea’s case, that would be Chairwoman Deborah Ochsner, Destiny Shipman, KayDe Naylon, Teri Whalen, Wendy O’Brien, Anne Klein, Val Foreman, Debbie Casto, Elena Lozano, Donna Bowles, Janis Milliet, Kellie Simpson-Jaworsky, Sue Maxwell, Janet Seiter and Becky Surmeier.

Tables were decorated with candles, red roses and a plate with chocolate-covered strawberries.

Shipman, an English teacher at DHS, wore black and white with a darling black feather fascinator hat. She began with a series of quotations sent in by fellow staff members.

A couple received quite a response. Barbara McLachlan submitted Eleanor Roosevelt’s “A woman is like a teabag – you don’t know how strong she is until she gets in hot water.” Another that struck a chord was Dolly Parton: “The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain.”

At previous teas, the candlelighting ceremony took place toward the end, but this year, mothers lit a votive candle at each table and let the girls light the rest from that. There was only one tiny fire when a napkin got too close – luckily, no harm was done.

The women decided to keep the speaking to a minimum and invited Kathrine Warren, who graduated from DHS in 2005, to serve as the keynote speaker. Someone so close to their age was inspired – when a 50-year-old woman gives a teenager advice, it sounds like a lecture. When a 25-year-old does, it sounds like freshly gained wisdom.

Warren left them with “Seven Things She Wishes She Had Known Seven Years Ago.” They were things that still resonate for us 50-somethings.

“Don’t be afraid to ask for help” and “Listen to your gut,” are things we all should do more. The third piece of advice is “Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts, and don’t be with people who are reckless with yours.” Amen.

“Travel often,” “Wear sunscreen” and “If opportunity presents itself, take hold of it and don’t let go” take us to six. (I liked her sixth one better for a close, she went with opportunity.)

“Be grateful and count your blessings” is an attitude and activity that makes everyone happier.

Providing the soundtrack to the tea was the DHS Jazz Combo under the direction of Katharine Reed, with Lars Schwaebe, Chris Petty, Max Kelly, James Triola, J.P. Skeath, Jacob Skeath and Keegan Jordan-Matney. (It was one of the few ways a boy could get in the door – shooting photographs and helping with the sound system were others.)

The tea, of course, included tea, sandwiches and cupcakes decorated by Albertsons with a red rose and “pearls.”

The conclusion was a beloved tradition, a slideshow that featured the beautiful young women and their joys along the path they’ve traveled thus far, from Brownies and dance class to soccer and learning to be cheerleaders. ErinEdblom produced that segment.

This year, I only know a few girls who are graduating, but I was sniffling with the other women as we thought about “our” little girls going out into the world.

The girls all went home with a lovely memento. Ochsner and Whalen had collected mostly donated tea cups from the Durango Humane Society Thrift Store, Methodist Thrift Shop, Dunn Deal Resale Store and Durango Indoor Flea Market. Wrapped in tulle and ribbon, each cup had a small charm tied to the handle (courtesy of Maria’s Bookshop) and held three tea bags (ready for that hot water), three honey sticks from Honeyville, a pampering gift from the Spaaah Shop, and either a red or white rose from north and south City Market. Y.E.S.S. Book Hutch and Foreman included a decorative and inspirational touch, a bookmark with another quote by Roosevelt: “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”

And because no woman should go out in the world without a stash of chocolate, Casto created special messages in some Hershey Kisses.

The young women will be hearing a lot of speeches in the next couple of weeks, as Warren reminded them, admitting she couldn’t even remember who the speaker was at her Senior Girls Tea. But if they clip this column, they can ponder what they heard from the speaker at leisure and check it again in seven years to see if Warren got it right. I think they’ll find she did.

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As we enter the cusp between Aries and Taurus, these birthday celebrants are looking forward to a special day, and cake, too – Risa Ontiveros, Marisa Smith, Delmar Beard, Garrett Cobb, Eleah Farrington, Carrie Betts, Virginia Martin, Laura McKelvey, Izzy Riley, Bill Russell, Adam Roessler, Susan Siegele, Dan Tucker, Hannah Miller, Eileen Wasserbach, Brandie Boyd, Missy Rodey and Bill Hoffman.

Roberta Barr, one of the great ladies of La Plata County, will turn 98 on Friday.

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I hope everyone did something special for their mothers Sunday. Mark Aaron Zick, the youngest son of Eileen and Jim Zick, flew across the country to surprise his mom for her special day. He lives in Philadelphia.

The visit also doubled as a celebration for the couple’s 47th anniversary. Also on hand were the couple’s oldest son, Lt. Col. James Michael Zick and his wife, Regan. “J. Michael,” as his family calls him, is in the Air Force and will soon deploy to Qatar in the United Arab Emirates.

The Zicks’ other two children, are a little more local, with Amy in Bayfield and Nathan in Durango. This was the first time in many years the whole family has been together. What a great way to celebrate.

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There’s something about May that leads to every organization in town having some “before the summer” event.

On May 5, the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Durango held its third annual Spring Frolic.

I love this event because everyone in the fellowship gives what they’re able, whether it’s some fabulous baked bread or jewelry, baby-sitting for a parents’ night out or an extravaganza of a dinner.

The group does something cool, and unlike the San Juan Symphony dinner auction that I didn’t quite understand, this one I did. Say there are eight seats for a lobster bake at the home of Don and Judy Hayes. (There were.) You and your wife bid the minimum plus an increase of $5 on top of that for two of the seats. The next couple tops your top bid by $5 and $10 for the next two seats, and so on. Whoops, eight people have outbid you, so if you want that lobster (and the Hayeses said they’d even wipe off that butter dripping down your chin), you have to top the upper two bids.

All kinds of meals were sold this way, with a Greek dinner courtesy of Dwight and Katherine Burgess, solve-a-mystery dinner at the home of Eb and K. Redford, cioppino prepared by John and Aline Schwob and so on. There was a live auction, with people bidding up just to get Tom Hafnor to stop making auction puns, and Crystal Carroll extolled the chocolate cake balls until the group was salivating.

The silent and live auction stuff straddled stuff that was cool and stuff people needed – Hafnor donated gutter cleaning that elicited such a bidding war, he agreed to donate more days dangling off people’s roofs. The group raised more than $12,000.

Kudos to Dennis Aronson, who led the organization of this year’s frolic, on helping finish off the fellowship’s landscaping. If you’ve driven by the fellowship, which is catty-corner from Needham Elementary School, you’ve noticed how great it’s already looking.

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Enjoying the best of Southwest Colorado weather for their anniversaries are Field and Priscilla Blevins, Brad and Monique Monson and Earle and Betty Beasley.

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