Sunday, May 26, 2024

Graduation Season! by Susan Aylworth

It's that time of year and the graduates are flocking like brightly colored birds at high schools, colleges, and universities everywhere, filled with energy and excitement. 

This year, I'm celebrating four graduates. The first, a borrowed granddaughter, walked with her class last week at Monument Valley High School in Kayenta, Arizona. Surrounded by world-class scenery, the 2024 Mustangs 

filled their gym with friends and family, many in traditional regalia. Kayenta lies in the heart of the Navajo Nation and the list of graduates includes names like Laughter, Thinn, Goldtooth, Greyeyes, Yazzie, Begay, Benally, and Blackhorse. 

My husband and I lived in Kayenta in 2017-18. I felt at home among women in ribbon skirts and adults--both women and men--sporting squash blossom necklaces in silver and turquoise. For my friend Sue--who came to keep me company--the experience was a cultural immersion she hadn't expected and will long remember. Even the signs in the grocery store were an adventure. 

We stayed over the weekend, went to church in a small congregation in Dennehotso, and took a picture with Shalisa (far right) and her family. 

We loved our visit with the Clys and might have enjoyed a longer stay and a wider tour of the area's magnificent sites, but my grandson was graduating four days later in southwestern Utah, so we drove again.

Caden would make any grandmother proud: a worker, an athlete, an outdoorsman who loves to hunt, fish, and ride off-road, exploring the backcountry. His class of 99 was the largest ever to graduate from Enterprise High School. I write small towns because I know them. 

Sue and I made him a necklace of candy bars. He added that to another candy necklace and three money wreaths from loving friends and family. He raked in the cash, and he can use it for the exciting future he has planned. 

I have a short break before I fly to Eugene, Oregon for twin granddaughters Erin and Abby. I'll sit happily through the same go-forth-and-conquer speeches I've already heard this year. The energy and excitement of my girls and their friends will make it all seem brand new.  

Susan Aylworth is the author of 25 published novels including two small-town sweet romance series set in and near the Navajo Nation and in the Sierra Nevada foothills. as well as five books in the Christmas Town series. Susan lives near Utah's Rocky Mountains. Watch for more books coming this summer and fall in both the Rainbow Rock and Christmas Town series. Her newest, ALWAYS A RAINBOW, Book 7 in the Rainbow Rock series, released on Mother's Day. Contact her at her website:,  or via, also @SusanAylworth. Susan loves travel, music, her large and scattered family, perfect raspberry jam, and hearing from readers. 

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