Today we had our eighth grade graduation, and then sent the eighth graders home. (Actually I heard rumors they were all getting together at a restaurant for lunch.) We occupied the seventh graders with a movie for the rest of the morning until the DVD player quit working and we ushered them all out onto the preschool playground for the last half hour before dismissal. I heard not one single complaint and the kids spent the last moments together before their summer vacation dunking purple and gold balloons in the preschoolers' basketball hoop, sliding down the tiny slide, swinging, and talking as though they hadn't just spent the last nine months talking constantly to each other, even in class. There were two reasons for using the preschool playground: first, the high school students were finishing up their exams, so we couldn't let seventh graders anywhere near that building, and second, the elementary school's last day was yesterday, so there were no preschoolers around to complain at the thirteen-year-olds on their playground equipment.
It's wonderful to be done with school for another year. The kids have been done and checked out for at least a week, so teaching them has been quite challenging. I used my regular tactic of saving the end of an exciting read-aloud, and even that didn't hold their attention the way it usually does.
It was good having some time today to enjoy and appreciate these kids, without the responsibility of teaching them anything. My eighth grade students made speeches (they all write and perform one in class, and the students vote on who gets to speak at the graduation itself). They were all dressed up and looked amazing. I talked to their parents about how wonderful their kids are (and they are, though I forgot that sometimes in the past week). Then supervising the seventh graders was fun, watching the way they interact and how basically kind they are to each other. I'm glad I'm just saying see ya later to them, that I'll get another year to work with them and see what else I can teach them before I send them off to high school.
After they all left, I ate some lunch and then went to my classroom and finished up my comments. I had less room than on Twitter, so it was challenging to say something useful about everyone, but I at least managed to say something about everyone. I still have to go back tomorrow and clean my room, and we have a wrap-up faculty meeting on Friday, but the work for the year is basically done. Another school year is history.
I did have one moment during the graduation when I remembered the night of the earthquake. That terrible night we sat there, in that chapel, for a few minutes, right where we were sitting to celebrate these new high school students. We prayed and sang and tried to comfort each other until tremors sent us outside again. Even though the building has a tin roof, nobody wanted to be under a roof of any kind that night. The picture of us sitting there flashed into my mind, but then was gone.
This year's eighth graders were in sixth grade when the earthquake happened, and one of their classmates died. Nobody mentioned her from the platform today, but she wasn't forgotten in our hearts. We remember; at the same time, life is going on. We're making new memories that are fresher than those terrible ones.
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