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Published: Monday, 6/10/2013

Deployed father able to attend daughter’s ceremony via Skype

Video chat brings family together for 6th-grade graduation

Lillian Harris shares her sixth-grade graduation via Skype with her father, Doug Harris, who is stationed in Afghanistan. Her father is shown in inset. Lillian Harris shares her sixth-grade graduation via Skype with her father, Doug Harris, who is stationed in Afghanistan. Her father is shown in inset.

Although she would have rather had him there physically, soon-to-be seventh-grader Lillian Harris was able to share her sixth-grade graduation last week from Greenwood Elementary with her father, who is deployed in an undisclosed location in Afghanistan.

Through Skype, Doug Harris, who is in the Air Force, watched the 1½-hour ceremony, sharing the occasion with his daughter.

Greenwood Elementary Principal Bill Colon said the ceremony is important for students.

“Sixth-grade graduation is a pretty big deal at Greenwood,” he said. “We always get a packed house every year for our graduation ceremonies. It’s a pretty emotional time. By the time the ceremony’s over, there’s not a dry eye in the house.”

When he heard that Lillian’s father was overseas, he said he wanted to help out.

“It kind of made me feel bad. We came up with the idea to kind of Skype the ceremony for him,” Mr. Colon said.

Lillian, 12, was also pleased that she had the opportunity to share the important day with her father, even when he was thousands of miles away.

“It made me very happy that he was able to be there with me. But I know it would have been more special if he was there in person. I’m very thankful,” she said.

Mr. Colon said the awards ceremony included a 25-minute slideshow, which showcased the students’ lives.

Lillian received several special awards during the ceremony, including certificates for fitness testing and physical education, music, and art.

She also received two ribbons for her participation in running relays and placing in the long-jump competition as part of the Washington Local Schools’ Junior Olympics program.

Mr. Colon said setting up the Skype session started off rocky, but everything ended up working out.

“I’ve never Skyped in my life. That was part of the difficulty in arranging this. I was very concerned as to whether we were going to pull it off,” Mr. Colon said. “It went off without a hitch. Lillian’s father watched the entire ceremony.

“It was a fantastic experience for everybody.”

Contact Kelly McLendon at: kmclendon@theblade.com, 419-724-6522, or on Twitter @KMcBlade.

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