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Congratulations of Class of 2018

I feel a bit sad that the Class of 2018 is graduating. My last kids are leaving high school. The third grade students who were in the class I taught before I retired will walk across stages and receive diplomas this week. As long as they were in school, I held a connection to children playing on ball teams, performing in plays, singing in youth choirs, and those listed on honor rolls.

During my teaching career, I taught students ages 8-12 years old. Grades 3 – 6. Those elementary years when children begin to show strong personalities and form habits and determine likes and dislikes. I watched them blossom and grow. I know it’s selfish, but I think that every child that was my student is just a little bit mine. Just a tiny, tiny part. And I take my share of blame for their failures, as well credit for successes.

Children don’t know that we teachers follow them. How we remember them and say, “He had a beautiful singing voice when he was 9 and in my class. Yes, I heard him sing a solo at church and he is very talented.” “I’d expect her to be on the honor roll. When she was in my class, she completed her homework every day and she always asked questions during class.” “He organized the playground football game when he was 12. He had all the skills to be the quarterback even then.” “The stories she wrote as a 6th grader were beyond her years. I’m not surprised she’s published a book and I’m proud of her.”

As I write this, I’m looking at my last kids as pictured in the 2008-2009 Capshaw Elementary yearbook. Smiling 8 and 9 year olds. Eager to learn. Eager to please. Well-behaved, most the time. I congratulate Josh, Alyssa, Lain, Chloe, Erica, Aozora, Michael, Parker, Matthew, Jacob, Chris, Sarah, Lupito, Katelyn, Madeline, Georgia, Hunter, Abigail, Rochelle, Michael and Andrew.

I hope these graduates take time to reflect on the past thirteen years. About the experiences that were happy and not so happy. About things that were easy and not so easy. About the Best Citizen Award received in third grade. About the being picked first, or last, for the playground ball team. About reaching a goal of 100 Accelerated Reader points. About a class trip to the zoo. About the fear of standing in front of classmates to give an oral report.   Those experiences that happened while we teachers were watching and now remember.

And as high school graduates open the next chapter of their lives, they should know they have a host of supporters. Not just their parents, their grandparents, but also their teachers. And I’d be remiss not to include sport coaches, dance teachers, Sunday school teachers and youth leaders, choir directors, even babysitters.

Graduation is a time to celebrate. Not just for the graduates, but for everyone. Their successes are ours.

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