I’ve been a father just long enough to understand what parents mean when they say things about raising their kids like, “Enjoy every moment, it goes way too fast,” and, “In the blink of an eye, they’re moving on to high school.”
I suspect a few parents have said something like that over the last few days; maybe even today.
“It seems like yesterday they were in kindergarten.”
Parents, if you haven’t said that yet, wait until the end of our ceremony when your children will receive a flower from our Kindergarten students as they walk down the aisle out of the gym.
Ceremonies like ours today, where we celebrate – Grade 7s – the amazing people you have become and are still becoming, are not actually intended to make time seem like it is flying by, they are intended to do the opposite.
“Where has the time gone?”
Ceremonies, rites of passage held in various forms in every community, are held in part to try and answer that question.
If we don’t slow down, ground ourselves in moments like this one here this morning, it is easy to think that the important events that are firmly implanted in our minds, memories like the first day of school, first time playing an instrument, first soccer game, first whatever, happened more recently than they actually did.
When we slow down and consider all of the in-between moments, we realize that much has happened in the last 8 years, in the moments between starting and finishing elementary school.
These “in-between” moments are different for each of you; this ceremony isn’t going to reveal them all; not even close.
But the people in this room might provide some clues.
Look around the gym Grade 7s; you will find family members, community members, friends of family, teachers, EAs and support staff.
Who has helped you become the person you are?
What can you do now that you couldn’t do when you entered Kindergarten?
What can you do now that you couldn’t do a month ago?
What have you done, at school and beyond, that has shaped the person you are now?
In addition to looking around the gym, look also to each other.
What friendships have you developed that help make you a happier, more confident person?
To confuse kindergarten as happening just yesterday ignores the incredible growth you have gained, the experiences you have had, and the depth of relationships you have developed, these past 8 years.
Amid celebrating the onset of summer vacation, amid the excitement and anticipation of entering Grade 8, I encourage you to take some time to consider the moments in between starting elementary school and finishing it. This ceremony is intended to help with that.
And this ceremony is intended to celebrate you; as individuals and as a group. In a moment, your teachers are going to call you up individually and share some words about you.
I’d like to take a moment to speak to you as a group.
You entered BICS the same year I did, September of 2010. I also had the privilege of teaching some of you, for one day a week anyway, when you were in Grade 3.
As I search for my own “in between” moments at BICS, a moment that stands out was my first day of teaching Grade 3; I was Mrs. Morton’s Thursday partner and, on my first Thursday, seeing students after music, I taught them Science, Health Education and then PE – 200 minutes total. I was completely exhausted. And I was feeling like it had not been a “smooth” day. I was used to, in my possibly overconfident recollections, executing masterfully designed PE lessons for Grade 6-7 students; now I could barely get the equipment out of the room without chaos ensuing. I wanted to set a good impression with these students who would only see me once per week and I was worried that didn’t happen.
Then, at the end of the day as we sat on the grass field at the end of PE and I said goodbye to them, one of the students came over to me, gave me a hug and then ran for the bus.
That student, who I will mercifully allow to remain anonymous, and that brief moment of time, made my day and this memory is now my main takeaway from my Grade 3 experience; so thank you.
I share this story because I think moments like this one are actually pretty common amongst this group of students. Grade 7s, throughout your years here, you have been one of the kindest, most polite, and most caring groups of students we’ve had the privilege of having in the school:
You notice each other
You cheer for each other
You help each other
You have fun together
You include each other
You push each other
And you get excited for each others’ successes
Back to the time passing cliché: “You look up and they’re off to high school.” Well, not quite, but I think we say these things about how fast time flies because it speaks to not being in control of the passage of time and it shares some of our sadness at not wanting certain stages of life to end. And yet “time marches on.”
As your parents look back upon the stages of your lives that will never repeat, they have memories of you as your younger selves, they will never again be able to lift you up and cuddle you, they are left instead with an amazement of your development and an excitement for the people you have become and are becoming.
Take all that was great about this stage – noticing each other, cheering for each other, including each other – with you into high school and beyond. Look out for each other.
We can’t go back in time so it is reassuring to know that many of the best parts of your childhood can move forward with you.
On behalf of the BICS staff, we wish you the best of luck as you move forward on your journey. Enjoy it, and good luck.