Wednesday, June 20, 2012
First, the school band played "Achievement" while the 8th graders entered the courtyard. The 8th graders who are/were in the band (including my son, on bass) obviously didn't get to take part in the procession. They also played America the Beautiful, and the chorus sang the National Anthem.
Each department handed out awards to the students who stood out in those classes. My son didn't win any of those awards, but did receive a Presidential Award for Academic Excellence, for having straight As (nine A+'s, as he pointed out, more than once.)
So why did my son spend the rest of the day in a terrible funk? Even at lunch, I watched his enthusiasm fade until he couldn't even finish his food - french fries untouched on his plate! (Soo unlike my teenager, let me tell you!)
Transitions are hard. They're still hard for me now, at my age. I can remember back to being a teen and having big changes happen, like when my parents moved to Vermont to buy an Inn. Change is scary when you have no frame of reference.
My own 8th grade graduation was a "bigger deal" than this one - evening ceremony, long dresses for the girls, suits for the boys (well, that was a more formal time, I guess. And it was New Jersey.) I was going on to the local regional high school in the fall, with all my friends, but I still felt anxious all summer long in anticipation. I spent a lot of time taking stock of myself - how people perceived me and how I wanted to be perceived. Who I wanted to be. I was ready for a change. I think he may be, too, but hasn't had time to think about it.
Transition and change are part of life. Things don't stay the same. And most of the time, we don't really want them to stay the same. Little transitions help us prepare for the bigger changes and challenges we'll face as we grow up.
This is why YA literature is filled with these kinds of changes - new kid in school, starting high school with new people, family moving to a new town, new state, new planet... reading about how others are also scared and how they deal with it and don't drop dead from fright helps our kids deal with their own fears, and their own scary transitions.
Although, sometimes in books, the changes are truly scary, like finding out there are vampires in your new school. Or that the new girl you have a crush on is really a mermaid...
Change is good. But it can be scary.
What graduation advice do you have for a kid just finishing middle school, headed off to a new high school in a different town where he won't know the kids in his class? What's your key to a smooth transition?