Yes, they will. But this part is over. We’re done. We’re moving on. Life doing what life does, going by all too fast.
With a tear in her eye and a bittersweet heart, my baby, Emily, graduated from Timber Grove Elementary School last night. And while it’s a big deal for her, so it is for us. With Sophie, my oldest, now in middle school, Emily’s graduation represents our last ties to Timber Grove Elementary. We’ve graduated as well, there’s no going back. We’re moving forward. But what a great ride.
So many firsts. The first day, I mean who can forget kindergarten? You never do. Except you do, especially when you look back at the pictures, many of those in a picture slide show the art teacher, Ms. Easton put together. It’s hard to believe how much they have grown. The carpools. Every day. In all kinds of weather. Kudos to the moms, who took on this responsibility with a coordinated effort any drill sargent would be proud to see. Yet we also live in walking distance to the school and when the weather was nice, we all walked. Sometimes we walked in small groups, sometimes in large clusters of children and parents, honoring our tradition, the neighborhood walk to school on the very first day of each new school year. But we are no longer within walking distance to the next place of learning. No, next August will be the first time “the first day walk” won’t happen.
So many firsts to remember. The first lunches packed. The first day in the cafeteria. The first assembly. The first day of homework. The first test. The first gym class. The first report card. The first PTA meeting. The first fight. The first fundraiser (for us it was the grand event, Spring Fest, which no one will ever forget). And how do you ever forget your first school friend.
Emily has a ton of them now. Many who live in our incredible neighborhood. And more of them Emily has met along the way. When school becomes the center of your young life, these people you see five days a week for most of the year become the center of your universe. Many of them become friends. Some of them, friends for life.
They are a great bunch of kids. Our new principal Mrs. Miller said it was one of the best 5th grade classes she had ever worked with. “Social, very social, and social”, she said with a smile. How could they not be? These children, who are growing up before our eyes, are at the center of the social media revolution. They are constantly connected in ways many of us cannot appreciate because we didn’t have the opportunity so young. And so young they still are, but with minds which mature at the speed of light. And ready to do great things. Emily is already on the way, she earned the President’s Education Award for Outstanding Academic Excellence. Way to go Em, we couldn’t be more proud. It’s only the beginning.
But she could not have done it without the guidance of her teachers, and school administrators, many of whom spoke last night. Ms Easton told them it has been an “incredible pleasure to grow up with you. Keep growing and be a creative problem solver for our world.” I like that. Assistant Principal Mrs. Johnson, “the class of 2013 has the potential for greatness.” Principal Mrs. Miller, “one thing you can control is your character. It’s one of the most important things over which you have control.” And I like 5th grade teacher Ms. Rouchard’s remarks as well, because she spoke right to our hearts, “we are very appreciative that you lent us your treasures for six hours every day.” To Ms. Rouchard, and all the teachers at Timber Grove Elementary, it goes both ways, thanks for guiding our children and helping to shape the very core of who they will become one day. We owe you gratitude beyond words.
As we drove home last night from an impromptu post-graduation get together at the local yogurt shop, my oldest daughter Sophie asked Emily if she heard one of the songs playing during the 5th grade slide show, the song titled, Friends Forever. Sophie and my wife Debbie started to sing some of the lyrics. Understand Emily is a hard-working, disciplined, academic over-achiever, athlete and countless other attributes I could describe. Emily moves through life with purpose and determination. She has the ability to put blinders on and makes things happen. She has success in her soul, but sometimes she sees the world in black and white. As Sophie and Debbie started to sing, Emily felt the colors rush in, and she was overwhelmed with emotion. At that moment, all the moments, from the 5-year-old kindergartner who walked in the door to her elementary school, to the 10-year-old fifth grader who walked across the stage last night, rushed in. Emily got it and she was overcome. And it’s OK.
Our lives are a collection of every one of those moments, each one a building block to who we are, forming the person we will become, hopefully who we were meant to be. And even after school days end, if we do it right, we never stop building. But it all begins with those early years. The foundation is poured, solidified and you start working your way up, making you the person you are today.
The core of that foundation can be found inside the four walls of your home, and one other place, school.
Emily loved every minute she spent in these early years of her life. And she doesn’t even know it yet, but the best is yet to come.
So we say farewell to the foundation and thank you, these formative years have been a joy.
To Timber Grove, to everyone who has touched our lives, we will treasure every moment. Thank you for taking care of our treasures.
To Elementary, with love. Mark