Alyssa’s Graduation from Avenue Five Institute

Alyssa chose to graduate early, a couple of months after she turned 18, so she could go straight into a Cosmetology Program. After looking around, she choseAvenue Five: A Vidal Sassoon School.  Only about 12 exist in the USA, so it’s a fairly prestigious school.  She learned so much there over the 10 month program. The way it works, time wise, is that you have to complete certain tasks, and 1500 hours of work. She quickly learned that keeping lunches to 30 minutes, and coming in a little early, would help click the time off more quickly. And, in spite of being really tired some days, she didn’t want to take a hit with regard to her hours. She pressed on. I was so impressed! It was such a different experience from when she went to high school and was leaving early, sleeping late – I think her attendance rate (according to those nasty truancy notes) was about 65%. But juxtapose that with THIS experience – her attendance rate was 104%!!!

Because of this attitude, she was able to shave some time off. She and several of her friends graduated early from this program too. She was in the first week/wave of graduates from the people who started at the end of June 2011.

Graduation Pre-Parties

Happy Hour before the Graduations start
with Paige
Britney & Alyssa

The soon-to-be graduates went out to Hula Hut at Lake Austin. It would be one of the last times for them all to hang out together. Some were going to finish school and get a job in Austin, others would be moving away as soon as they graduated.  Even though some of the months felt like the program was never going to end, when it started winding down to the final weeks, everyone was feeling the bittersweetness of graduating

Graduations Begin!

On the week of April 23-27, Alyssa’s friend Roxy would step up to be the first to graduate. Each day after her, Callie, Robin and then Alyssa would reach their 1500 hours and the graduation would start. Sabrina graduated a week or so later, and Alyssa ran up there to be sure that she could bear witness to her friend’s success!
Callie, Robin, Roxy, Sabrina, Alyssa
Roxy’s Graduation
Roxy’s Graduation…hugging Alyssa goodbye
Her Little Group: Callie, Robin, Roxy, Alyssa, Sabrina


Alyssa’s Graduation Day: 
April 27, 2012!

Sabrina working on Alyssa’s hair

At Avenue Five, as the student approaches their final day in the program, they’re able to have take advantage of all kinds of services there for free: Facials, hair treatments, final hurrah’s before they’re done with school.Alyssa went up to school around 10 a.m. She only needed to be logged in a couple of hours to complete her 1500 hours. She had spent her days earlier in the week having facials, etc.. Today, Graduation Day, Sabrina agreed to do her hair.

I had gone over to the Party Store to get a big balloon, a small graduation cap/hair band, and some vinyl letters to go on her car saying, “Congrats!” and “#1 Graduate”. I needed Sabrina’s help to get Alyssa’s car keys since these stickers had to be done from the inside. Alyssa had brought coffee for her friends that morning and parked in the back. Sabrina handed me her keys and then we went back to start putting the decals on the car. We were almost done when Alyssa came out to the back where people were gathered at the picnic tables. Glancing over at her car, I could hear her saying, “Who’s in my car?” BUSTED. Oh well, we finished the job anyway and she just shook her head.

After I was done with my botched nearly stealth car decorating, I went back to pick up Grandma and Josh to join us for the Graduation.  Sabrina was just taking down Alyssa’s hair when we arrived. Ron met us there and we were all ready.

Josh & the Graduate
with Grandma
With Grandma (Redo!)
We brought Tres Leches Cake into the break room, and spoke briefly to several of Alyssa’s teachers. They all talked about how impressed they were with her. She was the 2nd to the youngest in the entire program. And here she was graduating a month early! She had a 104% attendance rate (compare that to her 64% attendance rate when she went to High School). Clearly, she wanted this.  Her grade average was 94. The teachers said she learned quickly, was great with customers, and they really enjoyed working with her.  They all predicted that she would do great in the industry. By all standards, she was wildly successful at this.
Unbelievably comfortable in front of everyone 🙂
Giving her speech to the student body
So the time came and it was Alyssa’s turn to graduate.  It’s interesting how they “do” graduations at Avenue Five. When the graduate has crossed the 1500 hours mark, one of the head teacher/administrators rings a giant bell and shouts, “We HAVE a GRADUATE!” At that point, all of the students and faculty stop what their doing, begin clapping, and head the to the hallway. Once everyone has arrived, including the family, and lined both sides of the hall, the graduate makes the final walk toward the time clock to “clock out” for the last time. Usually, they run! When Alyssa did, the other students threw confetti on her as she did. Then there’s this pause, and everyone applauds as the Graduate returns down the hallway to make her speech. And, in Alyssa’s case, more confetti. She thanked her family – and got a little teary with us. Then she moved on to her friends who had come back to watch her graduate as well as her friends from the other classes. She spoke to each teacher, thanking them and reminding them of some little shared experience. I was completely shocked at her ability to do this. All week long I kept nudging her, asking her if she needed to prepare something to say. I had flashbacks of when *I* had to speak at various functions as I was growing up – times when I froze or just couldn’t do very well. She kept brushing me off, saying she’d just wing it.  I had been there for several speeches in the past. Most were very brief and the graduate was clearly uncomfortable speaking in front of a group.  Not Alyssa!  She did go to the store to get some Thank You notes – she wanted to write to each teacher that she really liked. That might have helped her bring some ideas to the front of her head, but she did great! She was so comfortable and just talked – to the entire student body. She was a Natural public speaker.
And, here’s Alyssa’s Graduation Speech. She told Josh she didn’t want him to record it, so he quickly handed the phone off to me. It was just aimed in her general direction, but turned out good.
*Be forewarned that this starts out LOUD! It’s the students throwing confetti and cheering for her as she runs for the time clock!

Lots of Hugs…

After the speech, everyone hangs out to hug the graduate. It’s very sweet. I’m sorry so many of these were blurry, because they were so nice to Alyssa. I’m going to include them anyway!
 Alyssa’s friends came in for cake and we hung out there for a little bit. Sorry I didn’t get pictures of everyone who came to celebrate.Afterwards, we went to Hyde Park Bar and Grill for  dinner.
From there, Alyssa met Roxy and Sabrina for Happy Hour…somewhere.What a great day!! I’m so proud of her!
Little Reception after the Speech…
Tres Leches Cake after the Speech
Tres Leches Cake – “Happy Graduation Alyssa!
YOU DID IT!”
Roses from Josh
Like her Graduation Cap?

The 2 youngest students! Alyssa and LaurenV
Robin, Ms. Linda, and Alyssa
SCHOOL FRIENDS
Callie joking around with Alyssa
Dinner at Hyde Park Bar & Grill with Our Graduate

One thought on “Alyssa’s Graduation from Avenue Five Institute

  1. Pingback: If I Knew Then, What I Know Now… | Lifelong Learning

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