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Bryson was a member of the first full class to graduate from Campo Verde High School, meaning they started out as freshman and graduated as seniors. A fact that we were reminded of often throughout the night as the speakers presented to the audience. The ceremony was a nice one, it went smoothly and there were less hiccups than you would imagine for a school that had only done this three previous times and was graduating close to 500 students.
If I had any complaints it would be that the seating was far removed from the stage and the ceremony itself. The stage was setup in the end-zone of the schools beautiful football field, and the students were seated back past the 50 yard line. As is typical, there is then a large track that wraps around field, followed by a fence, then a large walkway then finally the stands.
This setup is perfect for watching football games, and track events, but far less so for an intimate occasion like a high school graduation. When I climbed the stands to join Bryson’s cheering section it quickly dawned on me just how far away we really were from the stage. Note: I graduated from a class of 168 kids who also had the luxury of walking across the stage at the local university, so my expectations may be a little higher than they should be.
It also dawned on me that my brand new shiny 24- 105mm zoom lens was starting to look wholly ineffective from this distance. So before the ceremony started I gave up and headed down to the fence area. I quickly blended in with all the other would be photographers praying their equipment would get them something/anything useful from this distance.
As the music started and the kids young adults began streaming in, I realized it would still be a chore to spot Bryson when he approached. I would be lying if I told you I didn’t have a few throw away photos of some tall, handsome, short-haired guys for which I had no idea what there names were. I did get a few shots of Bryson as he walked in to find his seat, he was sporting his signature easy-going strut as if to say, don’t worry, I got this.
As the speeches began I decided to move away from the fence and chat with Tra, until the students began walking across the stage. The speeches were quite well written and were actually very entertaining. The ceremony was much quicker than Tra or I had anticipated. The ceremony started at 7 PM and while the speeches were still taking place we predicted it would be 10:30 or later before they got done calling 500 students and handing them there hard-earned diplomas.
As the names began being recited, however, we realized we were in for an entirely different experience. It was as if the announcer was trying to see just how fast he could possibly get through the list. I remember Tra and I turning to each other in shock, neither of us needed to say anything. This was not normal. Now that I have seen it done this way, I am convinced there is no other way it should ever be done. I was expecting a long session where onlookers wait for hours to hear the one name they are going to cheer for, however this new setup created an excitement in the air.
First was the initial realization that they were using a shotgun approach to reciting the names, then for me at least, it was realizing that I was going to need to find a good spot to get some photos much quicker than I had realized. I honestly don’t know how long it took them to get through the names, what I do know is that I started hearing last names with the letter P being called much sooner than I had realized. I quickly left Tra and Travis and headed for a spot on the fence. From the time Bryson got up to the line, to the time he had his diploma was maybe 30 seconds, so I was forced to use the shotgun approach myself, I took as many pictures as I could. A few of the shots turned out, but unfortunately because of the limitations of my lens, specifically the zoom, I had to crop way in on the photo, losing quite a bit of the detail.
Just when I thought I was done Troy sent me a message asking if I could get a shot of Nadeen. So I rushed back over to the fence. This turned out to be pretty easy as her last name starts with Z. I just waited till there wasn’t anyone else in line and started shooting.
When it came time for the cap throwing, the kids were all business. They chucked those things! I guess there are some advantages to having your ceremony outdoors.
After the ceremony, which ended right around 9 PM(are you kidding me!), we headed over to the Reeves Family’s house to take a few more photos. That didn’t last long as Bryson had a celebration of his own planned for the night.
As we were leaving there was a steady stream of cars headed Bryson’s way, below is a picture Troy took of the festivities a little later on in the night.
Congratulations Bryson, were proud of you!