By Tessa Adams of Family Footnote
It’s graduation season across America, and with that realization comes some reflection. Each year when my school gets ready for this milestone, the hallways buzz with anticipation. The kids are nervous, excited, and mostly ready to be done with this journey. It’s also kindergarten round-up season, and that brings an entirely different anticipation. When you think about it, our children’s journeys really do come full circle. They begin and end with this line.
A couple of years ago, as I was watching my last child line up for kindergarten round-up, I couldn’t help see the symbolism of this first line. There she was in line with other little girls and boys nervous and excited to find out what school was all about. I remember watching her long, blonde hair march slowly into the school, all the while hoping she would look back at me. Of course she didn’t. After all, she was excited about her journey into the unknown.
I wondered about her school life. She was about to begin a 13-year journey packed with memories, mistakes, successes, and challenges. Which kids in the line would join her for the next decade or more? How would I keep her excited and engaged in the positives? How could I help her extract all of the benefits one could from public education?
High School Graduation
A month after her line-up for kindergarten, I attended the high school graduation for the school where I teach. This bittersweet event is one of my favorites each year. On this particular day, I was quite emotional. Maybe it was because I had just dropped off my daughter to begin her public school career, or maybe I was feeling very nostalgic in saying goodbye to this specific class of scholars, but I couldn’t help but see the similarities between graduation day and kindergarten round-up.
Just like my daughter and her counterparts, my seniors were dressed to the nines. Gorgeous hair, flowing skirts, and shiny shoes adorned many. New haircuts, dress pants, and ties decorated the others. Like my daughter’s class, they chattered nervously, taking pictures with parents, friends, and teachers. The smiles were big and unencumbered by looking cool or obsessing over their image. This was a happy day, just like their first day of school.
Like day one of their schooling, the soon-to-be-graduates listened patiently and quietly to many adult speakers, whose sole purpose was to try to inspire them to greatness. This time, the advice was for them as they exited the school doors rather than as they entered them. The doorway they were about to enter was even more intimidating than those to their elementary schools. I could see their faces of wonder and anticipation as each speaker took the stage, imparting wisdom on the class. They were waiting for the big walk. They were anxious for their final time in line with these peers.
The Last Line
My assignment during each graduation ceremony is excellent. I’m front right, close enough to high-five or say hello to the students I’ve had either during freshman year or senior year as they wait patiently to cross the stage. They’ve waited in many lines during their thirteen years. The recess line, the lunch line, the ticket line for dances, the line for sporting events, the line for their scholarships, and here they are in life’s most important line. As they get ready to receive their hard-earned diploma, I glance up in the parent sections. Having recently been a parent watching my child march into her academic future, I recognized some of the same facial expressions.
A few parents were crying, some were cheering, and others were smiling, but every parent was hoping the same thing I did on kindergarten round-up day: for their child to turn around and look their way. When graduating seniors glance to their parents after this last line march, they are doing it with diploma in hand with that same smile they had in kindergarten, because it’s finally their turn to see what the fuss is about for the next section of their lives.
Years ago, as my daughter’s long, blonde head disappeared into the doors of the school where she would spend the next six years of her life, I thought of all of those seniors completing a journey of tenacity and will, of grit and perseverance. In the last line march of their youth, their smiles looked like my 5-year-old daughter’s. Full, unencumbered by life’s obstacles. Their eyes were as bright as their futures while they took part in their real-world round-up.
Congratulations to all of the new kindergartners and all of the new graduates. Immense fun awaits you all!
This post was originally published on Family Footnote.
About the Author
Tessa A. Adams is a graduate from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a Masters in reading. She is a language arts and creative writing teacher and is the co-author of the blog www.familyfootnote.com. She has three children and when she is not mothering or teaching, she is writing. Her work can be found in Huffington Post Parent, Fine Lines Literary Journal, Empty Sink Publishing, Route 7 Review, Sammiches and Psych Meds, xoJane, and Parent.co.