June 13, 2010

Thoughts on a Sixth Grade Graduation

Last Thursday we enjoyed Savanna's 6th grade graduation.  It was an experience seeing the two sixth grade classes celebrate 7 years of schooling, many of whom started kindergarten together.  They had students from each class share memories from each of the seven years of school.  For me it was kind of emotional to think about my daughter and her peers sharing so much time together over the years while I've been at work, seldom wondering exactly what she was up to.  Time has passed and she is growing up too fast.  The principal had requested photos from parents a few weeks earlier and made a nice slideshow.  There were pictures from all the way back in kindergarten.  I think we've been lucky to more or less be in the same place for so long and offer our kids such a level of stability.  It seems to be more and more rare these days to go through elementary and beyond in one school district.

Savanna had a great teacher this year.  He is the sort of guy who likes to have fun with the kids and understands their awkward stage of development sixth graders face.  He gave all the kids nicknames at the beginning of the year and took time to talk about the special characteristics of each of the children as they handed out the diplomas.  He was a good fit for Savanna and gave her artistic and writing abilities a lot of praise.  I remember my sixth grade teacher as my favorite because she helped me see that I had the ability to do many things that I didn't realize I could do.  She gave me confidence that helped me through the rest of my schooling and life in general.  I think Savanna's teacher did much the same for her.

Savanna, like Vanessa and I, has always been pretty quiet at school with a small circle of friends.  It was good to discover that there were many good kids in her class beyond the ones I had gotten to know.  It gave me a glimmer of hope for the future of society.

A few awards were passed out, two of which Savanna was nominated for but didn't ultimately win.  We were proud of her.  We know she has the ability to learn quickly and is interested in drawing and art.  But we've worried about her socially and physically.  We would love to see her have more friends and find a sport she enjoyed.  And I am hoping she will develop a better work ethic.  I don't think her schooling has challenged her enough to require her to work hard.  She is intelligent enough that what is required of her is too easy.  She is our first and oldest and, as parents, we are rookies when it comes to teenagers.  I think our worries with Savanna are merely the icing on the cake.  I don't see us dealing with real teenager problems like drugs and crime or pregnancy that many other parents have to.

But despite our concerns, the friends she does have are good friends.  And maybe the honors classes she is preparing for in 7th grade will give her the challenge she needs.  In fact, she has required reading this summer, though it is only two books.  And we are requiring her to join the orchestra and play the viola.  Perhaps this will give her opportunities beyond class to make more friends.  And perhaps we are rushing her.  Again, we're new at this and I think we both want to know sooner than later that Savanna is going to be ok.  We want to know that she is going to be happy and successful for the long run.

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