Monday, 24 June 2013

A Spectacular Night ~ Part 2 of Our Concert and Graduation 2013

The second part of our evening was a time to celebrate our graduates.  

Our graduates on stage with their teachers.

June is such an emotionally charged month at our school.  By the time we reach the graduation I am usually too overcome by emotion to say all that I would like to say about our graduates. This year I wrote down everything that I wanted to say so that I could stay focused.   I still broke down, but at least it didn't happen until the very last sentence.

This is how the graduation portion of the evening unfolded. 

The children you see here before you have been at our school for anywhere from one to almost four years.  We have witnessed their transformation from shy, scared and unsure 2 1/2 to 3 year olds into mature, knowledgeable and caring individuals.  As the oldest children in the classroom, we marvelled as they set the tone of the classroom and became leaders who looked out for and cared for their fellow students.  While they have learned to read, write and do arithmetic, the lessons learned go far beyond that.  I'd like to share a few thoughts about each graduate and the lessons they have taught us.

Our Half Day Graduates ~ (from left to right) Lucas, Christopher, Emily Z. and Julian 

Lucas ~ Thank you for your determination.  You learned many new things this year.  You impressed all of us with your fantastic math skills and the ease in which you solved math problems.  Other areas of the classroom were more of a challenge for you.  Instead of shying away from these activities, we admired your initiative as you continually chose them.  Day after day your classmates saw how hard you worked and became aware that if something is tricky, working on it will make it get easier.  Thank you for showing us that learning is not something that happens instantly, but it is something we all work at every day.

Christopher ~ Thank you for your empathy.  One of your classmates was having a hard time adjusting to school and you understood exactly how he was feeling.  It was most likely very similar to how you felt when you first started school.  Right from the first days of school, we watched as you took Cristian under your wing.  You have gently guided and supported him, always making sure he was okay.  He looks up to you and has learned a great deal from you.  Thank you for reminding all of us that when we care for and support one another, there is nothing that we cannot achieve.

Emily Z. ~ Thank you for your grace and helpfulness.  You have transformed from the little girl crying in the corner of the classroom to the unofficial leader of the half day classroom.  This year we watched as you were there to selflessly lend a helping hand to your classmates young and old.  Whether it was helping them get ready for the outdoors or with their work in the classroom, your classmates turned to you in their time of need and you responded with the grace and maturity of an older child.  We sometimes felt like you were the third adult in the classroom as you seemed to instinctively know what needed to be done.  Your helpful ways made our newest students feel connected to a warm and caring community at school.  Thank you for showing us what a wonderful place the world can be when we face each day in a helpful way.

Julian ~ Right from the moment you joined our school just over a year ago, we knew you were a kindred spirit.  It was as if you were meant to be here with us and all of your classmates felt it too.  Thank you for your compassion.  When one of your classmates is feeling sad, you are the first one there.  Whether it is bringing a tissue, giving them one of your huge smiles, or saying something to cheer them up, you bring comfort to those around you.  Thank you for sharing your big heart.

Our Full Day Graduates ~
Back Row (l to r) ~ Emily C. , Emily A., Alla
Front Row (l to r) ~ Stefan, Jonathan, Vince

Emily C. ~ Thank you for your optimism and encouragement. At home your mom calls you 'Sunshine'.  In the classroom, you were our Little Miss Sunshine, lighting up the room with your joyful spirit.  You have shared many things with us at school.  This year at recess, we watched as you shared your love and skill for gymnastics with your classmates.  The younger girls lovingly called it 'Emily's Gymnastic Club.'  In the classroom you were always there to give encouragement to those around you.  When one of the four year old girls didn't think she could finish the last pages of her printing book, you said to her "You can do it, you're a hard worker!"  When she did finish, the first person she showed was you, her face beaming with pride.  You gave her a big smile and a high five.  Thank you for reminding us how beautiful life can be when kindness touches it.

Emily A. ~ Thank you for your patience and endurance.  Ever since we have known you, you have always been a girly girl who loves frilly, pretty things.  When you told us you were taking karate lessons, we were pleasantly surprised.  Karate is not easy.  Yet, when faced with a challenge, like grading to get the next belt, or learning something new in the classroom, you didn't get scared or frustrated.  You displayed an inner calm and continued doing what you needed to do to succeed. We watched as you practiced your karate moves at recess and shared this with your friends.  Your achievements in karate have amazed us.  Thank you for showing us that in a world where everyone seems to want everything now (!), some things are worth waiting for.

Alla ~ Thank you for your consideration.  You were always a calm and quiet presence in the classroom, never rushing into anything.  You took the time to give careful thought to answers and suggestions.  You have shown us that you do not have to be loud and boisterous to be heard.  Amazing things can surface if we take the time to listen to our inner voice.

Stefan ~ Thank you for your generosity.  You were always so willing to give of yourself, whether it was helping a classmate with their work or zipping up a coat.  We particularly admired how you would share your artistic abilities with your friends enabling them to realize on paper the ideas they had in their heads.  We often felt like you were the glue that held our full day group together.  Last week when one of your classmates was upset because she wanted to sit at the table you were sitting at because all of her friends were there, you gave her your chair and moved to a different table.  When we asked you about it you replied "She wanted to sit there more than I did."  We all have a light that shines within us.  You have shown us that when you share your light with others, it has the potential to shine back even brighter.

Jonathan ~ Thank you for your curiosity and ambition.  You continuously showed us that the world outside of our school is a big and interesting place with so much waiting to be learned.  Recently at circle, we passed around the huge iron key that used to open the front door of Mrs. V.'s childhood home in Italy.  You shared with us that Italy is a country in Europe.  It is a peninsula and an island called Sicily.  There is also an archipelago off the coast near Pompeii.  You encouraged all of us, including the teachers, to never stop learning.

Vince ~ Thank you for your perseverance and your ability to always see the bright side of life.  We admire how you never let anything get you down for very long.  When you are faced with a challenge, you always give it your all, your beautiful smile never far from your face.  One day I watched as you worked with the Unit Division Board.  It is one of the hardest materials in our classroom and it was tricky for you at first.  I watched your delight as it all began to make sense to you and how happy you were when you looked in the little cup and said "Remainder 3, I have remainder 3!" and wrote it in your book.  That piece of work is so easy for you now.  You have shown us that with perseverance comes success.

It has been a spectacular year at our little yellow school.  Earlier in the year we read a story about a baby deer called Lost in the Woods.  In that story, the deer meets some baby birds who are getting ready to fledge, to leave the comfort of their nest and fly out into the world.  While we all miss our graduates more than words can express, the time has come for them to 'fledge'.  They are ready to move on to elementary school and we wish them all the best as they begin a new chapter in their educational lives.

The day before the graduation, Stefan's mom asked if she could speak at the end of the evening for just one minute.  The full day graduates knew what was going to happen but not one of them would tell us.  "I can't tell you, it's a surprise."  is what they all said.  On behalf of all the families of the graduates, Stefan's mom spoke words of thanks and praise for all that the teachers have done for their children past and present.  It was very touching and brought tears to our eyes.  The children presented us with gifts and beautiful bouquets of flowers.  It truly was our pleasure to have everyone in our lives.   The following day at school the half day children did an equally beautiful presentation for the teachers.  We are so very touched and thankful.

Stefan's mom saying a few words.

Then it was time for cake!

Funny Faces

Hooray!  We did it!