Today, being the last half day of year known as the Year We Had the Seventh Grade Class from Hades, wasn't half bad. Many kids didn't bother to show up (I had 13 absent, leaving only 12). Many were already suspended. And the ones that came, with a few exceptions, behaved.
The big fights that had been rumored didn't materialize, and we took our kids out for about an hour and they ran around and ate Popsicles and generally had a great time. It was awfully humid, so they were pretty wiped out, and consequently rather calm, when we got back. My class did a great job of cleaning up my room, and one kid even went so far as to completely clean out the refrigerator. Without me asking. Amazing.
So the year ended on a rather positive note. Even some of our little thugs seemed misty-eyed and promised they'd try to stay out of trouble over the summer and they'd be back to see us next year. And of course we had to wave the buses goodbye. I'm not sure where this tradition started, or if we're the only district that does it (I know I've never been anywhere else that does this and new teachers are always amazed by it) but it's one of the highlights of the year. The bus riders are dismissed and once they're out of the building, we walk our walkers and parent pick up kids outside and line up along the driveway and wave at the buses as they go by, with kids hanging out the windows waving back and the bus drivers honking on the horns as they go by. Everyone joins in, from secretaries to janitors, to the administrators. It's loud, it's fun, it's joyful!
And many of us wouldn't miss it for the world.
We had to stay until 2:30, but many of us went out for a lunch with our teams and chatted about the year, and the summer, and what we were planning on doing. My team is changing a bit next year with Ms. Language moving to Mrs. Bunny's team where she'll be teaching her true love, science. That's a good thing as she'll be working with Mrs. Eagle and I in science and she's a joy to work with. Miss Reading will be moving to Mrs. Eagle's team and Mrs. Eagle's reading teacher will move to mine. We're going to a block language arts/reading format next year, and I'll only have one of these teachers, instead of two. Our numbers on this side of town are going down a bit, so we'll be a smaller than normal 7th grade team. It should be interesting. I had a great team this year and we'll miss having Ms. Language and Miss Reading, but they'll still be in our building so that's good.
We actually have two more days of work, Tuesday which was scheduled, and Wednesday where we make up a snow day. So basically we have all the time in the world to back up and clean our rooms. We have to label and pack up everything as our rooms are completely emptied over the summer so the floors can be cleaned and waxed and some of the walls painted.
This evening Mrs. Eagle and I went to the high school graduation at the local University (which is where all our high schools have their graduations - it's large enough to accommodate everyone's families). Mrs. Social Studies had actually invited us as her daughter was graduating and she wanted us there and at the family party afterward. I wanted to go because this graduating class was my first group of students at The School.
Looking through the commencement program it was gratifying to see how many of my former students had made it through and were earning their diploma. Motormouth Boy was there just to prove that royal pains in the butt in seventh grade can grow up and become intelligent, well-mannered young men. Many of my former special education kids were there, including one I feared would drop out and get involved in the drug trade like his uncle did. He was beaming when he walked across the stage, and I beamed as well. Talky Girl was there, with honors, despite having a baby her sophomore year. Smiley Boy, a tall, gawky seventh grader with a smile as big as Texas who struggled with school but worked harder than almost any kid around (while both his parents worked at McDonalds, as neither graduated from high school) was an even taller smiling young man as he received his diploma.
And they had candles lit up at the front of the stage for Vincent and Philipp, who drowned three years ago this weekend and who I still miss.
Quite a few are going on to college. One has been scouted for the past two years by Major League Baseball scouts and is going to school on a baseball scholarship with hopes of making it into the majors one day. A few are going to trade schools. A number are going into the military, including one of my favorites from my first year, Jolly Rancher Boy (who would clean my room every day for a Jolly Rancher) who is going to become a medic.
I'm proud of them all. And wish them all the blessings and joys that life has to offer. They're good kids.