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The village turns out to celebrate graduation of youngest

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Many members of the village were in my backyard Saturday.

As I filled up the barbecued pulled pork server, I glanced out of my kitchen window at the backyard filled with friends and family who had gathered to celebrate my youngest daughter’s high school graduation.

The village — Phoebe’s role models, mentors, friends, confidantes and teachers — had again come together to circle the wagons in celebration. And my small attempt to thank them all was to dish out strawberries, Lori Weller’s cake balls and barbecue sandwiches.

Miss Mary (Smith) who taught second-grade Sunday school class for more than 50 years at Mount Pleasant Christian Church demonstrated that memorizing God’s word was fun — incorporating kite-flying contests and the ever-present Indy 500 race car

May-themed Bible memorization contests. Miss Mary’s graduation card included numerous photos of Phoebe and her second-grade Sunday school class of 2004. (Yes, she is that lovingly organized!)

I thought about the simple ingredients of water and sunshine that encourage my garden to grow and flourish as I watched Phoebe’s face light up with humbled delight when two Covenant Christian High School teachers arrived.

Ms. Vicki Vibbert challenged her vocal and performance talents so much that by the end of the year Phoebe was dressed up as Ann Wilson from Heart, singing “Barracuda” with the orchestra strings section. Mr. Matthew Feltrop invited Phoebe to be his teacher’s assistant (or maybe she begged) for the second-year Spanish class, and I remembered her mentioning how reviewing was extraordinarily beneficial as she finished her fourth year in Spanish and was gifted with the coveted (and tear-bringing) Spanish award.

As the evening flashed by, I reflected on the hours of coaching and mentoring that Greenwood residents Clark and Dr. Sherri Wilson have poured into hundreds of students who play Bible Bowl — memorizing entire books of the Bible for 10 months of the year and competing each month and at colleges and nationals each June and July. They continue to lead and mentor students even after their own children are successful college graduates and the two eldest boys are gifting them with grandchildren.

The yard was filled with Phoebe’s Grandpa Frank playing his guitar and singing; her

great-uncles and -aunts, Floyd and Sandy, John and Janet; cousin Josiah from Minnesota; and a slew of Johnson County cousins. The village that helped mold and make who she is.

It seems her fellow classmates came in bunches — the Chamber and a capella choir group friends, swim and tennis team friends, including the friends she quietly shared her dreams, worries, disappointments and joys with via text or old-school gabbing on the phone. They were here.

Her two older sisters and new (married into the family) brother and his family helped with the celebration. The village was here. And Phoebe was blessed.

And the African proverb stands true: It takes a village to raise a child. And Steve and I thank you — the village.

Janet Hommel Mangas, the third of seven children, grew up on the east side of Greenwood. The Center Grove area resident and her husband are the parents of three daughters. Send comments to letters@dailyjournal.net.

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