Looking forward to the sequel
On Sunday, July 5, Mount Waddy Primary School held its annual sixth grade graduation ceremony at its Methodist Church. Ten proud students were celebrated by equally proud parents, grandparents, siblings and friends. Two children, Alliana Ferguson and Britney Henry, were honored for their academic achievement and for epitomizing our five Mighty In Character values––truth, faith, courage, kindness and gratitude. Both will receive financial assistance for a seamless passage into high school.
Sixth grade graduations (along with eighth and ninth grade, depending on each school’s logistics) have become commonplace. Years ago, they were questioned, sometimes challenged by adults familiar only with twelfth grade, end-of-high-school rituals and sometimes lumping early adolescent versions with that pernicious everybody-gets-a-trophy mentality.
But one American mother answered the criticism by declaring, “You don’t understand. We need to celebrate now…because he might not see another graduation.”
Meaning: Anything can happen between now and someone’s senior year. He could decide to drop out, due to needing to find a job. Or because of far worse choices.
That may be true in cities where hope for advancement and prospering seems minimal. But not at Mount Waddy. If it takes a village, then we’ve already got one. Every adult quietly monitors every child’s behavior and reacts accordingly.
All we need do, then, is study those gleaming blue gowns and those triumphant grins. How can students (and their families) not feel proud? How can they not look forward to Graduation: The Sequel, where accomplishments are even more stellar? And do we really perform a disservice by lauding children at such a young age?
Making kids feel special for their own achievements, I’m convinced, will make them long for more. Many more. And that’s when even the possibility of disappearing from one’s classroom and not participating in the next installment vanishes. Even sixth graders can understand the impact of an early imprint.