"Everybody's so different, I haven't changed."
-Joe Walsh, "Life's Been Good"
Another year all packed away neatly in boxes and cabinets. What happened this year wasn't radically different from last year. Or the year before. The faces change. Some of them grow older. Some of them grow more tired. Mostly they all stand up and move down one slot, opening a spot for the next group.
I have seen nineteen promotions, and the celebrations are always very similar. There are big, boisterous groups of friends and family on one end of the spectrum, and then there are the kids who show up alone on that last day because that's the way they have come to school for the past one hundred eighty days. They will go home that way too. There may be a party waiting at home. That would be nice. Mostly there will be a few months' respite from the day to day grind of elementary school.
And there are those who loudly announce, "I don't care. I'm not coming back to this school." While this may be true for our fifth graders, it is almost always those kids who are crowing about how we no longer have any hold over them because when they go on to the third or fourth grade their parents have assured them that they will be relocating to some kinder, gentler spot where there are happy teachers and students working together in positive ways. Funny. I thought that was where I worked. I thought those kids were the fly in our educational ointment.
Anyway, sure as the sun comes up way too early in the morning, most of those petulant voices will be part of our choir when school starts up again in August. It's the ones that move on without saying goodbye that tug at my dusty heartstrings. Each year I connect with a certain number of young people in a way that transcends the day to day grind. When they move on, either by promotion or attrition, I miss them.
Then I go back to that box and unpack. It's time to start work on the new year.