Pam Webb

a writer's journey as a reader

Archive for the tag “graduation”

Looking Forward to Looking Backward

A backwards glance takes a back seat for now

Today is the last day for the 2019-2020 school year and I officially begin my summer break. Usually I stay in “teacher mode” and work on lesson plans and revise units while it’s all fresh in my mind. I do this until June 30th and then allow myself to take July off and slowly ease back into school mode around the middle of August.

That’s the plan, anyway. This year the usual has changed. I am ready to embrace summer break without any hesitation, and will not give school much thought until August rolls around.

This year beginning mid-March business as usual changed. We scrambled to create distance learning curriculum and adjusted and adjusted some more as we rode out the school year. Who would have thought two months could feel like a lifetime.

School officially ended May 29th for our school district. Graduation took place in the school parking lot with families in cars and grads socially distanced. There was a reduction in pomp due to our circumstances. The ceremony ended minutes prior to a spring rain storm. How fitting.

I spent Sunday posting my grades from home and Monday will be spent wrapping up my classroom for the summer. I usually celebrate the end of the school year with reflective euphoria. I dwell on victories and successes of teaching and tuck away the ritual of student farewells.

I haven’t seen the majority of my students since March 18th and briefly said good-bye to a handful of seniors who ventured into my classroom. Sans hugs, I wished them a masked farewell.

This has been a weird end to a school year that started out with such promise. I look forward to looking backward on the 2019-2020 school year. Right now I am numb, weary, and a bit heartsick at not only how the school ended but how our nation is troubled by the pandemic and violent protests.

I usually spend part of my summer break traveling and visiting friends and family. That won’t be happening. This saddens me greatly.

I am blessed to live in a small town, a tourist town. And yet, that brings its own set of concerns as the outside will permeate our little bubble dome of safe haven and possibly bring infection to our fair city.

With all the closures, hard times, and scary events clouding my daily life, I do have something to look forward to: the good news is the library is opening up a day after my birthday. Best present ever!

Any other teachers, parents, or students have reflections on the end of the school year?

What good news do you have that brings some sunshine to your cloudy days?

Just Another Smalltown Graduation

One thing about living in a small town (under 8,000) is how everyone comes out to cheer on our graduates.  Rain or shine we hold the ceremony out on the football field so that as many people as possible can stand, sit, recline as they root on children, siblings, friends, neighbors transitioning out from high school to the “real” world–I ponder this expression, but shall save for another post, another time.

This year the weather remained in the perfect mid 70s with a touch of balmy breeze.

I volunteer as one of the staff crowd control, which involves trying to look imposing enough so that anyone trying to edge up beyond the perimeter rope won’t even think about it. The look and stance usually last about the first fifteen minutes before someone sneaks past and then the inevitable breach occurs. Crowd control is annoying as well as fun.  Telling people “please stay behind the line” when they only want a quick hug and photo op makes me feel a bit heartless. Yet, chaos would ensue if there wasn’t some attempt at decorum.  Did I ever tell you about the time someone handed a grad a lit cigar as he approached the admin gauntlet and he blew cigar smoke in the principal’s face?  Well, that’s one reason we now have a perimeter rope. It’s a rowdy crowd.  I’m always amazed at how loud  people can whistle, yell, or airhorn their sentiments to the exiting grads. I think having the ceremony on the football field must influence the enthusiasm.

We don’t invite in a fancy shmancy speaker–it’s all student-generated, except for a brief commentary from our principal. There is the Senior Class President, student nominated speakers, plus the valedictorian and salutotorian.  Each speech varies in its focus. The range is humorous with last-minute digs at admin and staff and students to sentimental and sincere (“Thanks, Mom.”).

Then the pomp and circumstance and parade begins. In a twinkling all too soon, students cross the stage and emerge as adults stepping into the next phase of their life. As they turn up the ramp to take their bleachers there are last-minute congratulations and hugs.  And the inevitable, “Please stay behind the rope–okay, make it quick.”

Yup, gotta love the small town celebration of life’s accomplishments.


Having a Senior Moment

Today marked the last day and first day for a group of seniors.  As we wrapped up their visual essays that little old epiphany popped up:

“Hey guys, do you realize this is the last class on the last day of your high school career?” I obviously was more impressed with that fact than they were. I offered up the Kleenex box, but no takers. There’s no room for tears when there is cheering going on!

Wanting to capture the moment before they all split in separate directions I said their exit ticket required five memories of AP Senior Literature.  Silly me, I was thinking they might mention any of the following:

  • “I sure appreciate knowing how to properly apply anaphora and polysyndeton when emphasizing my need for repetition and parallelism.”
  • “Having learned the significance of water when reading literature makes me want to run right out and grab a copy of Moby Dick this weekend.”
  • “I wake up in the middle of the night craving yet one more reading of Prufrock’s lovesong.

No. None of that. Instead they popped off these memories:

“Your cow jokes.”

“The story of how you met your husband and made polenta for him.”

“French day. All that bread and cheese and fruit we enjoyed when watching Cyrano de Bergerac.”

Nope. All the labor spent on creating scintillating lesson plans went unnoticed and instead the personal aspects is what became memorable for them.  Lesson learned: The best teaching comes from learning to set aside the plans now and then.

I’ll miss this batch of seniors, we’ve had our share of moments, that’s for sure.  Saturday is graduation and once they leave behind high school I wonder if they’ll take along some new friends with them–Jane, Janie, Lizzie, Darcy…

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