Yesterday morning saw the usual rush of trying to get out the door. (“Kids, we leave in 8 minutes, you should probably get dressed….have your brushed your teeth?…Stop organizing the bookshelf and brush your hair…Why are you still naked?…Okay, I’m leaving, is anyone coming with me?”)
We snap a few “last day of school” pictures, then grab backpacks and hurry down the sidewalk to school. Inside the school doors, I give my kisses and wave goodbye.
About forty-five minutes later, I find a seat in the gymnasium and watch as the classes come bounding in and sit on the floor. The energy in the building is palpable, the walls barely able to contain it all.
Year End Assembly.
As the principal talks about the few staff members who are leaving, students gasp or profess their sadness through quiet “no”s. I can feel the love these kids have for their teachers, the love the teachers offer the kids.
A few members of each grade will stand up and share how their class has “left their mark” this year, completing the theme that was introduced ten months ago in this same gym. They will talk about the art they’ve created, the spring musical, the kindness they’ve shown, the things they’ve learned, the mistakes they’ve made, the friendships they’ve built.
There are five of the Kindergarteners, standing with nervous excitement in front of the school. And there is my little Kinder, the smallest kid in the whole school, saying her line into the microphone, clearly and confidently. My smile stretches out in pride. How much she has changed from when we dropped her off for her first day of school in September.
How much she has changed from the little girl who would slump out of her classroom, dragging her backpack and coat behind her. She’d collapse onto the floor, right in the middle of the hallway, while the other classes stepped over her on their way to recess. A morning of Kindergarten exhausted her, apparently, and all she could do was lie on the floor.
How much she has changed from the little girl who would stomp down the sidewalk and around the corner to make her way home after school. I’d ask, “How was your morning?” with such open hopefulness, only to be met with a glare or perhaps a snarled, “You don’t have to ask me that!”
It’s been a while since she’s stomped home or collapsed on the floor. Lately we chat on the way home or play tag or run races. She tells me stories from her day, she holds my hand, she smiles up at me. She, my wee little bean, is suddenly different, willing and ready to speak her line into a microphone in front of the whole school. It’s been a good year in Kindergarten.
After the classes all share, they play the slideshow from the year. Music fills the room, and the kids move and dance and clap where they sit as they laugh at the pictures. Again, you can feel it, this community, this care, this energy.
And then the Vice Principal is up front with his ukulele, leading the Grade Six ukulele players and all the students and teachers in singing this song they wrote about their school, about learning and art and drama, about going a bit stir crazy after a string of indoor recesses during the winter, about running outside in the sunshine, about this place that is theirs.
And I am laughing and crying, feeling so thankful for this small school where they play ukuleles. I don’t want this moment, this day, this school year to end. I know it needs to. I know the students and the teachers desperately need some time away from the classroom, some time away from each other. But I am not ready to close this chapter, to say that kindergarten and grade two are over.