Thursday 08 Dec 2016

Moving Up
Jennifer Flaten

Do you remember the last day of school?

It was always a perfect day, one filled with anticipation of a summer filled with endless possibilities.

On that last day of school, the teachers realized the futility of trying to teach a bunch of summer crazed kids, so they sent you outside to spend the day running around throwing water balloons (if you were lucky) at your friends and stuffing yourself on ice cream and other goodies.

Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, the bell rang and you were free for the summer!

After hugging all your friends and maybe your teachers, you grabbed your backpack-now weighing 50lbs, from all the supplies and mysterious "stuff" from your desk-and you dragged your sunburned and bloated self home.

Well, it doesn't work quite the same way anymore...or at least it doesn't at our school.

Sure, the kids still ran around outside all day, and they certainly ate a ton of treats. In fact, one kid ate three different summer birthday treats, and one kid had ice cream.

This really peeved the kid who only got one measly Popsicle.

Naturally, the backpacks contained a ton of junk.

I swear any sheet of paper with even the tiniest pencil mark made it into the backpack. I can't tell you how many sheets of paper I waded through and they all went right into the recycling bin.

Buried underneath the papers, I found the mother lode of school supplies. So that's were they all went!!

It was only a few weeks ago that I got a note home insisting I send more pencils and erasers.

I remember being amazed that the kids used up 50 pencils and 6 erasers during the course of the year.

After dumping out the backpack, it became clear that the supplies were just hiding out in my kid's book bag.

Honestly, backpack checks should be mandatory before teachers come begging for more supplies.

Anyway, at our school, the kids didn't spend the last hour of school watching the minute hand making its slow progress around the clock; nope they had a "moving up" celebration.

I am not sure, if this is just a local thing, or if it is the latest trend in end of year festivities.

Anyway, here at the new school my children were "moving up". Okay, that is just a fancy term for going into the next grade.

That is how I found myself, squished on a hard metal gymnasium bleacher, on the first really warm June day listening to 45 minutes of celebrating.

Did I mention that this took place in the gym?

Let me just say, I was completely amazed that they managed to fit all and I do mean all of the K-5 students and the entire faculty into the gym.

Not to mention the horde of parents who were crammed like sardines on the bleachers.

I won't bore you with the details of the program to suffice to say it involved poems, speeches and singing-lots and lots of singing.

I alternated between clock watching, waving wildly to my children and trying to fan myself with the minuscule program to keep from fainting.

Now this program wasn't without its merits. Since, the fifth graders are leaving elementary school for junior high, which is a milestone, I agree with a little extra celebration.

All the children were arranged by grade, and to symbolize the "moving up" each grade sang a portion of a song and then physically moved from their current grade level position to the next grade level position.

The sight of all those fifth graders filing out of the gym was rather touching, but then again I get emotional at sappy commercials.

Luckily, this program wasn't a graduation, because I really think any graduation ceremony, other then high school or college is totally ridiculous.

Thank goodness, my school didn't graduate the kindergartners, moving them up is more appropriate.

I know some schools that make a huge deal over kindergarten "graduation" and eighth-grade "graduation".

People spend a ton of money on gowns, limos and celebratory parties...for eighth grade graduation-I can't imagine what they do when the kid actually graduates high school.

I am not sure about the motivation behind these ceremonies. Are the parents so uncertain that their kids will actually finish school?

Worse, I would hate to think that kids need that much extra celebration to motivate them to continue school.

I mean school is the kid's job. Sure, you should be excited to enter a new grade, but hey, you got a long way to go.

I really liked my schools idea of celebrating the process of moving up to a new grade. It is good to foster enthusiasm for school with out going crazy.

Jennifer Flaten lives where the local delicacy is fried cheese, Wisconsin. She writes about family life, its amusing or not so amusing moments. "At least it's not another article on global warming," she says. Jennifer bakes a mean banana bread and admits an unusual attraction to balloon animals and cup cakes. Busy preparing for the zombie apocalypse, she stills finds time to write "As I See It," her witty, too often true column. "My urge to write," says Jennifer, "is driven by my love of cupcakes, with sprinkles on top. Who wouldn't write for cupcakes, with sprinkles," she wonders.

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