Sally Ann Shurmur: Chocolate Squares And Frosting Can Mean Only One Thing

Columnist Sally Ann Shurmur writes, "Graduation season is here and this Sunday will be a popular day. We’ll be across the street in purple to wish the 56 Herders well and then then change shirt colors and head to southeast Wyoming for 20 graduates."

Sally Ann Shurmur

May 16, 20244 min read

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They are so ridiculously simple and adorable at the same time.

For years and years, I have made mortar boards out of a couple of candies and a dab of frosting.

It’s not an original recipe, but the first time I published it in a Cookin’ with Sal column, moms of soon-to-be graduates went nuts.

Graduation season is here at small school Wyoming and this Sunday appears to be a popular day.

We’ll be across the street in purple to wish the 56 Herders well, then change shirt colors and head south on I-25 for a late afternoon celebration in southeast Wyoming for 20 graduates.

The high school graduates in my family are now 40 and 33, but I remember those times with vivid clarity.

The oldest seemed to be easily distracted, and long before remote learning was a thing, I received an evening phone call from his guidance counselor.

Seems he needed a history class credit, and her best suggestion was an online situation offered by — gulp — BYU?!?

You’ll never know the extent of a mother’s true love until she writes a check for hundreds of dollars to a school she can barely say without gagging.

That class was easily accomplished, however, and silly me, I thought we were smooth sailing to graduation.

Until I got a call from said almost graduate.

“Mrs. Goode (the NCHS librarian) says I need $85 for my book fines in the library.”

Having absolutely no idea where those books might be, that fine was a happy price to pay for graduation.

Today, he is successful as a fabricator in Casper, working alongside friends he’s had since those high school days. The stuff he can create from a hunk of metal and a computerized machine is mind blowing.

I remember dozens of late night breakfast burritos as he worked really hard those last few months, realizing that maybe he had waited just a bit too long to get serious.

Six years later, it was a completely different scenario with the daughter who stressed over every single detail of every single project.

Her late night fuel of choice was pancakes and coffee, and I happily albeit sleepily obliged.

She was and is the artsy craftsy sciencey one, STEMing along before that was a big thing for girls.

She was cursed by so many interests and accompanying talent in each that she had a really tough time choosing just one path.

I will never forget going downstairs and seeing her leaning over the couch, practically standing on her head, shaving styrofoam for her 3D art projects for the Wyoming State High School Art Symposium.

A tattoo artist and craft store owner in her dreams, she works as a CT scan rad tech at Banner Wyoming Medical Center.

This year’s chocolate mortar boards are for a kid who did almost everything at Glenrock High School.

He earned the fully full 100 percent Trustee Scholarship to the University of Wyoming, where he will major in nursing and work as a CNA while he goes to school.

We “met” his family nine years ago, when I wrote a random column about a pyramid of hay bales decorated with Christmas lights in the prairie between Casper and Glenrock.

His mom responded to that column and we have been family friends ever since.

On Sunday afternoon, we’ll head to congratulate a girl we’ve known since kindergarten, when she appeared in her seat in Section G at War Memorial Stadium with brown and gold ribbons in her hair, buckin’ horses on her face, and glittery painted signs cheering on our beloved Pokes.

In Wyoming, those are the only connections you need — a hay bale with Christmas lights and a kindergartner holding a sign.

Each of these kids is the oldest in the family and their moms are not having an easy time.

All I can tell them is it doesn’t get any easier, first kid, middle of the line or last.

Hold on to the memories, be sure you are in the pictures, and make as many breakfast burritos, pancakes and pots of coffee as they ask for.

Sally Ann Shurmur can be reached at:

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Sally Ann Shurmur