Behind the Curtain: We try to capture the smile and lasting memories of graduation

  • Documenting high school graduation often means taking pictures of parents and students taking pictures, as in this case with Sara Cox photographing her son Michael  along with his sister Lilliana before Fremd's ceremony.

    Documenting high school graduation often means taking pictures of parents and students taking pictures, as in this case with Sara Cox photographing her son Michael along with his sister Lilliana before Fremd's ceremony. Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

  • Here, meanwhile, is the image  Sara Cox took of Fremd High School graduate Michael and his sister Lilliana.

    Here, meanwhile, is the image Sara Cox took of Fremd High School graduate Michael and his sister Lilliana. Courtesy of Sara Cox

  • Daily Herald filePaul Valade - Daily Herald Deputy Director of Visual Journalism

    Daily Herald filePaul Valade - Daily Herald Deputy Director of Visual Journalism

 
 
Posted7/7/2021 5:00 AM

The high school graduation season is a busy time of the year for the photo staff at the Daily Herald.

Because of the pandemic, many schools last year canceled ceremonies, held drive-through events or held outdoor graduation in late summer.

 

This spring, the safety measures eased and the 90-plus schools in area suburbs held commencements. It's rewarding to document these events, but it's also fun to photograph students getting together to take selfies, hugging their friends and gathering one last time as classmates.

The Now Arena in Hoffman Estates was home to many ceremonies including Palatine's Fremd High School. While covering, I saw a little girl with a smile from ear to ear having her photo taken with a graduate. The girl was Lilliana Del Mar, 5, and she was getting her photo taken with her brother, Michael Cox, by their mom, Sara Cox. I grabbed a few quick frames and approached the group to get names. Sara jokingly asked if it will be in the paper, and I knew the photo was strong enough to make it in print. A couple days later, I received an email from the mom along with the photo she took around the same time. Here is a portion of her encouraging note:

Mr. Valade,

I am the mom who poked fun about my kids photo definitely going to print -- and they did! Just here to say thanks -- Lilli thinks she's famous now and this will be a treasured memento for Michael's memory box. Attaching the photo I was taking in the photo. Thanks again! Sara Cox

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