Caledonia High School holds its senior tea for graduating girls

More than a dozen tables are in use for the girl’s senior tea on Tuesday, as all guests were seated after getting food. For many, it is a time cherished by mother and daughter. (Photo by Tony Wittkowski)

More than a dozen tables are in use for the girl’s senior tea on Tuesday, as all guests were seated after getting food. For many, it is a time cherished by mother and daughter. (Photo by Tony Wittkowski)

By Tony Wittkowski | Contributing Reporter | The Sun and News

For anyone uneasy with the formality of the annual senior tea at the Caledonia High School cafeteria on Tuesday, keynote speaker Judge Sara Smolenski offered a welcoming respite.

Smolenski, chief judge of Kent County’s 63rd District Court, had everyone laughing with her recollection of playing basketball at the University of Michigan and being called into the game from the bench to make her hard-court debut.

So excited to get into the game, Smolenski related the embarrassment of ripping her sweatpants off – and taking her shorts down with them.

“You’ve got to have desire and determination and drive, but you’ve got to keep your pants on, too,” Smolenski said to her audience of senior girls and their mothers. “I just want you to feel good about what you’ve done and to know that there is a lot yet to be accomplished.”

A number of mothers and daughters celebrated accomplishments and reminisced about good times on Tuesday.

For Mary and Hannah Jablonski, the final days leading up to graduation could not be better spent than with each other.

“I remember it as being a very special time because I was with my mom, Mary said in recalling her own senior tea some years ago. “I think that was the most special part about it.”

Hannah Jablonski, Mary’s daughter, will be attending Aquinas College to study public relations, and jumped at the chance to spend more time with her mother on Tuesday.

“I think it’s very special with your mom, so I liked the idea of going with her because we used to do things like that when I was little,” Hannah said. “I’ll miss the people you see every day, you won’t be able to see them after college, but they’re still you’re good friends.”

Jody and Shelby Kresnax sat with the Jablonskis, chatting and discussing the differences between schools back then and now.

This was Jody’s second senior tea, only because she attended her older daughter’s before.

“We never had a senior tea at my high school, I never knew why,” Jody said. “It is very nice to see some of the parents you haven’t seen for a while.”

Shelby Kresnax, who intends to go into pre-med at Davenport University, spoke highly of the teachers as well as the school in its entirety.

“I will definitely miss the teachers and the school and just seeing everyone, every day,” Shelby reflected, “but it’s time for a new chapter.”

Smolenski expressed her appreciation in being able to share in the start of those new chapters.

“I’ve been here before several years ago, but I always enjoy coming here because it is so festive and fun with this celebratory event of the accomplishments of these young women,” said Smolenski, who emphasized to the audience the importance of believing in self and individual ability. “They are all embarking on new careers and new life their mothers are very excited.”

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on May 25, 2013)

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