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Category Archives: High School

A sunset cruise with the class of ’82

Our “Mexit” Party

The Biskupic family “Mexit” celebration mirrored Molly’s entrance into this old world.

Both happened on a steamy summer day, both involved the sweet support of family and friends, and both concluded with Molly’s relieved parents high-fiving and saying, “Well, thank God that went well.”

As they have through every important stage of her life, Molly’s siblings rallied for her high school graduation party. Charlie flew in from New York and spent the morning of the party lugging corn on the cob, configuring makeshift air conditioning units, and setting up tables and chairs.

Katherine and Cousin Lizzy drove up from Chicago with homemade baked goods and impressive kale salad making chops.

Vinnie and his girlfriend Danni drove in from Minneapolis, ran errands and headed up the take down crew.

Our friend Keith spent the whole day with us, designing the grilled corn station and manning our shared La Caja China, a grill box that deserves its own post some day.

Unsolicited, our next-door neighbors brought over really comfortable tables and chairs.

From George Arthur, our 11-week old neighbor, to Nai Chang, our 94-year old friend who still plays golf twice a week, the party turned out to be a celebration of gratitude for all the cool people we’ve all been lucky enough to know.

There was beloved family, who set aside busy lives and drove north for the celebration.

And neighbors.

And the elegant Wilmots, who first met Molly when she was a pre-school tag-a-long to Franklin Grade School.

And our theatre parent friends, some of the best people we know.

And my college roommate and her family.

And Connie the Cookie Lady.

And our octogenarian, ballroom dancing friend Janet.

And my grade school friend Carol, who lives down the street.

And Molly’s friends.

And their parents.

If I had a vote, of course I’d have voted against a Mexit…and a Vexit…and a Kexit…and a Chexit.

But, life moves on and, when it does, aren’t we all thrilled to sit back on a summer afternoon and recognize the cool support our fleeing chicks draft behind as they take those first tender steps?

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Connie the Cookie Lady joined us.

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And our 11-week neighbor George Arthur.

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We celebrated Croatia’s independence and Molly’s independence with cookies.

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Molly made a sheet pie.

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Lizzy brought a delicious blackberry butter cake.

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Molly whipped up a giant batch of watermelon lemonade.

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La Caja China deserves its own post.

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Photo credit to Catherine McKenzie for this next series of us jumping off the porch…

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Vinnie got air…

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But it also took him a little longer to land.

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Croatia!

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Representatives of the Biskupic family!

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Connie the Cookie Lady exits into the sunset.

An open thank you note to the AASD

We wrote a little thank you note to our school district today.

Then we hung it from our balcony.

If it seems extreme to hang an eight-foot sign from the front of your house on your last child’s last day of school, know this: We are that grateful.

We loved the field trips to bat caves and planetariums; the sock hops and snowshoes, back packs and book reports, Odyssey of the Mind and jump rope for heart, Franklin Fun runners and school crossing guards; science fairs and pioneer days; Donuts with Dad and Muffins with Mom, Days of Silence and Show and Tells; Orientations and Farewells.

We admired the educators — the football coaches who taught our sons to play so hard their muddy jerseys hung limp and rank, and their cleats dragged turf across the parking lot; the teachers who made a lifetime impact on our children by their patience, passion and proficiency; the directors who coaxed talent from our offspring we never knew they had, and the others who recognized and showcased gifts we suspected but hardly dared to see.

We saw you there in the classroom having lunch once a week with our daughter and her friends, when they weren’t even your own students; and you, teaching empathy along with academics in your fourth grade classroom; and you, leaving the heavy weight of enormous grief on the outside of your classroom and thereby teaching so much more than  Calculus (though you taught that remarkably well) to the students seated there; and you scaring, inspiring and teaching all four of our high school students that history lives and its participants have an obligation to think, read, and debate.

To the sweet grade school music teacher whose concerts felt like holidays and the art teacher who worked with her to inspire the kind of cross-genre collaboration that makes the world a more beautiful and interesting place, a million thanks.

Thank you for the books you assigned and we all enjoyed — The Bridge to Terabithia, To Kill a Mockingbird, Tales of Despereaux, The Little Prince, The Fountainhead, Maniac McGee, Animal Farm, Captain Underpants.

Man, how we loved the Wax Museums, Multi-Cultural Nights, Talent Shows, and Track and Field Days; the Homecomings, Proms and Eighth Grade Farewells.

Thank you to the principals with your open doors and even more open hearts.

Thank you, Merci Beaucoup, and Muchas Gracias to the language teachers and the great big beautiful world they showcased.

Thank you to the volunteers — you’re just amazing and we’re thrilled to call so many of you friends.

Thank you, Appleton Area School District, from the feathered depths of our almost empty nests.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank You.

We’ve been just thrilled to know you.

Vinnie's first day of school

Vinnie is trying to smile here on his very first day of school, but he’s actually quite miffed. The name tag on his desk reads Vincent. He straightened that out toot sweet and enjoyed a happy, happy 12 years. Thank you to all of Vinnie’s teachers for not calling him Vincent and for helping him soar.

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I can’t begin to describe the impact Coach Engen had on our son Charlie, who was thrilled to reconnect at a football game a few years ago. Thank you Coach Engen for encouraging Charlie to leave it all on the field.

Katherine and Parker

Thank you to Mr. Parker for being a talent whisperer, for putting in longer hours than anyone, and showing all of our kids how gratifying it is to work incredibly hard to achieve a dream.

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Thank you to your charter schools, and team projects, and science fairs, and super cute third graders, Appleton. 

Thank you AASD for 24 years

Thank you AASD for 24 years.

From this house, to the world

Requiem for a cello

The Play is the Thing (a post by Molly)

With the close of my twenty first and final show at Appleton North Theatre this past weekend, I’ve been reflecting on what a wonderful gift live theatre is to those who experience it, in the audience, on the stage and behind the scenes. While I certainly feel sad to end my high school theatre career, I feel even more grateful for the privilege of being a part of something as remarkable as live theatre.

The Play is the Thing

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The Winter’s Tale (2012)

It is a privilege to care for a play,

To take home a small piece of the playwright’s soul,

Nurture it with hours of hard work,

Lose sleep while gazing at it, like a baby in a bassinet,

Plant it in the minds of audience members

And watch it flower on a wooden stage.

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Journey to the West (2014)

It is a privilege to laugh with a play,

To let it shake your shoulders and redden your cheeks,

Feel your giggle grow into a guffaw,

Lose your breath, find it, and lose it again,

Bend in half around a witty joke,

And trap it in the pit of your belly.

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Les Miserables (2013)

It is a privilege to love a play,

To hold it in your arms and kiss its cheek,

Let it draw a smile on your face,

Hold its hand for a few brief hours,

And listen to the melody of its words,

Tickle your ears and tease your brain.

Caterpillar rehearsal

Alice in Wonderland One Act (2015)

 

It is a privilege to live with a play,

To smell the air and breathe the wind,

That carries it through the acts,

Lace up your feet in a character’s shoes,

Fall asleep with her thoughts, wake up with her dreams,

Find her eyes staring back at you in the bathroom mirror.

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The White Snake (2016)

It is a privilege to cry over a play,

To reach for it as it walks away from you,

Leave behind a piece of your soul,

In the dog-eared, coffee stained pages of your script,

Then pass it on to the next cast, the next stage,

While a tear traces your cheek and a smile curves your lips.

 

White Snake, Golden Opportunity

Dear High School Senior,

Wild and crazy in Guatemala

Three times in one weekend I was THAT mom

On Sunday, I noticed my son had not been participating in a lively group text among his siblings and me. Naturally, I assumed he was incapacitated in some way.

It’s not that the family group chats are mandatory, it’s just that they’re fun and who wouldn’t want to chime in? Am I right?

So I skimmed his social media accounts, noting the last time he’d either posted or responded.

It was a little too long for my comfort, so I sent him a short email and, when he failed to respond in the maternally acceptable time frame I thought we’d established long ago, I assumed he had died. Obviously.

And there I was, watching the Badgers play Xavier and mentally reviewing my schedule for the upcoming week, should an emergency trip to New York become necessary, when Bronson Koenig hit the shot that apparently really was heard around the world and my son texted our little group, “This March truly is madness.”

“He’s alive!” I said to no one in particular, because they were jumping around the family room screaming like normal people who’d just seen one of the most miraculous basketball shots in NCAA history.

And that was just one instance this weekend when I became “That Mom.” You know, the crazy one you swore you’d never be?

On Saturday night, I took a picture of the high school theatre director who’d been central to our family for the past 16 years. He stood alongside three of my kids in a room full of posters marking his incredibly rich history with the school. At least one member of my family (and sometimes several) had been involved with most of those productions.

I tried to thank him, but I choked up.  I had to leave the room. Then, every time I tried to laugh about my over-the-top reaction, I welled up again. I’m not going to lie, things are getting a little blurry for me even as I type this line. What is this salty secretion? And when’s it going to stop?

Argh! I am that mom! And there was more! Earlier that Sunday, I hauled out my camera and followed Molly through her last show as student director of her last high school musical, snapping random pictures like a rookie mom on the first day of school.

I’m currently avoiding mirrors because I’m not sure I’d recognize myself.

I’m writing this post as fair warning. You may want to give me wide berth. I’m sensing the sunset of my last days as an active mother, and I think I might be losing my mind.

Charlie sipping tea in New York

He’s a grown man living a sweet life in the Big Apple, but, when my son Charlie doesn’t return my text messages, I assume the worst. This is a recent picture of him sipping Turkish tea, for Pete’s sake, at a sidewalk cafe. I need to get a grip. But, no…

Molly giving notes

To get this picture of Molly giving notes to the cast, I had to sneak into the choir room and crouch down in a corner, just behind that fan. I may need help…

Molly doing hair

She doesn’t even know I’m in the green room with her, snapping this picture…

Cooling room

But, then, I followed her to this room and the gig was up. Apparently, the infamous lemon ceremony, a good luck tradition for the crew, is off limits to the paparazzi.

Mr. Parker, Vinnie, Molly and Katherine

This picture of all that history on those walls and within those people makes me cry. Yikes. It’s only March.