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It’s Not “The Big House.” But For UM Grads, A Westport House Will Do.

Saturday was supposed to be graduation day at the University of Michigan. Held every year in the 100,000-seat football stadium — “The Big House” — it’s a day Wolverines and their family look forward to for years.

For the Kaner and Offir families, this one was extra special. Jack and Jacob are first cousins. Born 3 months apart, they graduated together from Staples High School 4 years ago.

COVID-19 shelved a trip to Ann Arbor. But it did not stop the celebration.

The Kaners hosted both families for a “social distance” lunch (the grandparents were there, far away). Everyone wore UM-themed masks, courtesy of proud grandma Lea Kaner.

The yard was decorated in maize and blue. Jonathan Kaner created realistic looking — but fake — diplomas for the grads.

Jack Kaner and Jacob Offir. Masks by Grandma.

Liz Kaner planned a surprise finale. Jack and Jacob’s Westport friends drove by blaring their horns, in cars decorated with streamers and signs.

Family members’ toasts were poignant. Many touched on themes of resiliency, and the importance of family and friends.

Jacob spoke of a cherished photo in his room, taken years ago with Jack on a roller coaster. That’s a great metaphor, he said, for how topsy-turvy their lives are now, in the pandemic.

Proud mom and aunt Liz Kaner noted that the celebration made people realize that sometimes you have to go “there” to appreciate what you have “here.”

No, it wasn’t the Big House. But it was a house in Westport — the town where the 2 cousins, and their siblings, grew up, grew roots, and earned their wings.

Hail to the victors!

PS: Jack graduated with a BA in economics, and a minor in Asian studies. He’s hunting for a job, after an offer from Hilton Hotels was rescinded due to the coronavirus. Jacob majored in business administration, with a minor in computer science. He’s been hired as a technology consultant for PwC.

Everyone got into the UM act.

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