Thursday, May 26, 2011

Kindergarten Graduation

Well, he's still in school, but the graduation ceremony was yesterday (Wednesday). I found out about it ... ahem, on Tuesday.

I was told it was "free dress" (as in no uniform), so we acted accordingly, under the assumption that the gown would cover up the actual free dress outfit.

There were no gowns. Only caps. So he graduated in an old Star Wars t-shirt and shorts.

It was very difficult to see John, but I did get a video of them singing their little "Going to 1st Grade" songs in Spanish and the presentation of certificates, which I'll try to post later.  There were about 100 students, and during the principal's commencement address, she reported that every single one of them is going to first grade reading and writing. 
These are John's buds: Calvin, Harry, Kavi, & Skyler. Kavi is his best friend, which in kindergarten terms means they get in trouble a lot.

After the ceremony, we went back to the classroom for some nonexistent punch and cookies.  WHY DID THE PRINCIPAL SAY THERE WOULD BE COOKIES IF THERE WERE NO COOKIES?  I don't know.

Earlier in the semester, Calvin's mom had done a project about Frida Kahlo, and all the kids made a self portrait in that style.  The combined self-portraits were somehow conglomerated into one masterpiece which was put up for auction at the end of the year Gala with a starting bid of $200.  Calvin's mom had the brilliant idea that each family should put in a few bucks to buy it and then have it framed for her.   

Here is Ms. Lash receiving her end of the year gift.  I know; she's gorgeous.

During the presentation of the art project above, Ms. Lash cried and cried. She is moving to California and so it was a doubly sad moment for her. She tried to give a little speech, but couldn't, so later yesterday afternoon, she emailed us this, with the subject line, "So what I was trying to say was ..."

Thank you.

Everyone warns first-year teachers that “It gets better,” and “don’t worry, it’s only one year.” I was told that “kindergarten is the hardest grade” and that “teaching is a thankless job.” So, I went into this year expecting a daunting challenge coupled with the most difficult students I’d ever taught. In August, I felt prepared for getting through a long, harrowing first year.

I was wonderfully unprepared.

Instead, I won the first-year teacher lottery: nineteen sweet, happy students and nineteen supportive families. I didn’t have to “get through” anything. I got to spend my days with nineteen incredible, unique individuals and watch them grow. I’ve been lucky enough to observe nineteen little ones bloom into nineteen readers, all while joyfully supporting each other’s evolution. I have experienced nineteen people become nineteen friends. I struggle to express how fortunate I feel to have been granted this year. I wonder if it’s even possible for it to “get better” and feel a bit sad that it was “only one year.”

I also was blessed by an extended community of nineteen amazing families. Your kindness and thoughtfulness far exceeded anything I ever imagined possible. I am overwhelmed by how much you’ve done for me this year and speechless by the gift you’ve given me today. It is the nicest thing anyone has ever done for me and I will treasure it forever.

I told the kiddos today that I won’t be back at Glendale next year but that there are many ways they can keep in touch with me, I would love to know how everyone is doing and how much they are loving first grade and how many teeth they’ve lost and all that wonderful news! I think the thing that I am most sad about in leaving Glendale is that I will not get to see this class next year as first graders and that I will not get to have all their sweet younger siblings (the majority, I believe, will be starting kindergarten in two years), I would have loved to have had round two of this year.

I have heard—and I believe this advice to be true, unlike some other words of wisdom (please see above)—that it is always better to leave on top. I feel as though I have heeded this advice quite literally as there is no way my next kindergarten class could ever compare to the magical dynamic that was this group. Much like the final season of Seinfeld, I feel as though I’m leaving on top.

Thank you for an amazing year.

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