My family ended this school year with several graduations.
One kid graduated from kindergarten, one from middle school and one from high school. Each graduation meant something different to me, and to each of my graduating kids.
My little kindergartner’s graduation was an adorable ceremony to congratulate the kids on their first year of formal education. My daughter did not attend preschool, so this was her first school experience. This year she learned how to read and write, how to listen to directions and how to explain her feelings. She learned to wait her turn at the playground and to wait several weeks for the chicks in her classroom, to hatch. She learned to color, cut and paste. Her graduation was a celebration of a successful beginning. It was an invitation to continue learning, making friends and observing the world around her.
For my middle schooler, graduating eighth grade meant something different. It signified the ending of her elementary education and the beginning of her high school education. In middle school, my daughter learned how to work a combination lock and locker. She learned how to use the internet to research topics, submit assignments and check her grades. She learned how to type effectively, how to create a resume and how to write a research paper. She learned what it meant to represent her school by competing in school sports. She learned to ask for help and to study on her own. While she didn’t get an elaborate graduation ceremony, she did get to celebrate with her fellow classmates on the last day of middle school.
The graduation ceremony for my high school senior was unlike the others. It was momentous. Completion of high school is a large milestone in a student’s education. Based on these numbers, the average student in Idaho goes to school for about 170 days a year. Counting a year of kindergarten, 12 years of schooling equals roughly 2,200 days. That is a lot of school. When any student receives their high school diploma, we should all celebrate. The end of high school (usually) means the end of free education, free laundry and free food. It is the end of living at home and sleeping in all summer. The end of high school signifies the beginning of adulthood. It is the beginning of true independence. It is the beginning of finding a career, finding a place to live and for some, finding additional education to pursue. For my son, it also means working full-time in the summer and moving away for school in the fall.
With each of these graduations I was both happy and emotional.
I have been happy watching my kids grow and learn. I have loved looking at their artwork and their amazing class projects. I have loved listening to them at school concerts and cheering for them at athletic events. I love celebrating their educational milestones.
I was emotional at the graduations because I knew how much effort went into each one of those 2,200 days of school. Some of those days carried over into late nights, finishing projects or assignments. Some of those days involved multiple trips back and forth to the school for doctor appointments, dentist appointments, orthodontic appoints. I spent multiple hours meeting with teachers, principals and counselors, all to ensure that my kids could get the best education possible. Graduation means a lot to me and to my kids.
Do you have a graduate in the family? What does graduation mean to you?