Today my two older children will walk into their elementary
school for the last time as students. This afternoon they officially become middle
For the past seven years, they’ve traveled the same
hallways of Lafayette Regional, selected books from the same library shelves,
eaten lunch and had PE class and sung during concerts in the “Multi-Purpose
Room,” and – for the most part – seen the same teachers around the school.
I’ve found myself reflecting throughout the closing school
year on my children’s progression from tiny kindergarteners to confident sixth
graders – and of my progression through those years as their mom.
Like parents everywhere, no matter the age of their offspring,
I have often wondered at the quick passage of time – this year, perhaps, more
than others. (And I empathize with the parents of the kids who were 6th
graders the year mine were in kindergarten; those former 6th graders
graduated from high school last week!)
I have a distinct memory of entering Lafayette on the kids’
first day there, of standing nervously to the side of the lobby toward the
kindergarten classroom while the principal held Morning Meeting, of noticing
how BIG the 6th graders seemed – and how tiny my kindergarteners in
Now, those once tiny kindergarteners are the big kids. The
ones moving on in a couple of months to another school, where they’ll again be
the youngest. Until they are – suddenly, I’m sure it will seem again – the
oldest, the ones ready, once more, to move on.
There were many things they’d looked forward to as they
entered sixth grade: helping the 1st graders with Halloween pumpkin
carving and holiday gingerbread houses, working on robots for FIRST LEGO League,
and most especially the end-of-school-year Festival of the Arts.
The sixth graders run this much-anticipated event, starting
on the planning back at the beginning of the school year, selecting a theme
(kept secret until the day of FOA), designing various stations of crafts and
sports, writing and producing a skit they perform for the entire school, and
running the whole show when the big day arrives.
My children still remember their first FOA, as
kindergarteners, when the theme was Super Heroes and they came home with
shields and masks they had made, with help from “the big kids,” along with lots
of stories about the day.
This year, as the morning of FOA arrived, beyond the
excitement, they were both feeling the pressure of being part of a group in
charge of something. Their class did an amazing job. In part, that’s because it’s
a great group of kids. In part it’s because their teachers, the ones who have
guided them from kindergarten right through sixth grade, whether in the classroom
or in some integral support role, are awesome.
This culminating year at Lafayette has been one of lasts for
my older two children. It started with their last first day of elementary
school back in August and has ramped up the past few weeks to include several others:
last spring concert in this school, last “normal Friday” at Lafayette, last
Festival of the Arts, and now the last day.
Amid all the lasts of the past several weeks, several firsts
have also been sprinkled in. The Lafayette 6th graders have met
their Bethlehem counterparts, who will be their classmates over the next six
years of schooling. They’ve visited Profile and met their middle school
teachers – who, my kids report, are also awesome. They’ve put in their requests
for elective classes and signed up for fall soccer.
For probably the first time in their young lives, my kids
are experiencing the weird emotional juxtaposition of sad and excited. Excited
to be moving on to middle school – new building, new teachers, new
opportunities for learning and sports and friends. Sad to be leaving a place
that feels a little bit like home and a staff that seems a little bit like
Both kids have been talking lots about the memories they
have of their elementary school years. For me, a couple of good ones come to mind.
The first is of the holiday concert their kindergarten year.
That year, my daughter – despite her love of school – cried every morning at
drop-off, struggling with that daily separation from me. She was shy and mostly
quiet. But the evening of the concert, she stood, front and center on the stage,
and boogied for all she was worth to the Penguin Polka. It made my heart sing –
even if that dang song still gets stuck in my head. (This year she was thrilled
to be the emcee of the talent show and to get back on stage for the FOA skit.)
A few years later, my son wanted to read a poem during Poetry
Night. His teachers have always encouraged the children to participate in
Poetry Night and the annual talent show and any other chance to stand up and
perform, to show a bit of themselves to the audience of other kids, teachers, parents
and grandparents. While far from the class clown, my boy has a sense of humor
that is subtle, but sure. He selected Shel Silverstein’s “Warning” to read. If
you don’t know the poem, look it up – and beware the sharp-toothed snail who lives
inside your nose.
Back then, 6th grade seemed far away, and middle
school was a glimmer on the distant horizon. Now, here we are. They’re ready.
They’ve been preparing for this step since that first day of kindergarten.