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I almost forgot to put these videos from Field Day on the website. They are very short, and they only show part of the activity that wore kids out on that last Friday, but they still make for good memories. Principal Bozarth even got in on the action, mounting a scooter and wiggling his way to the finish line.
When our final projects, involving children's literature, history, art, and tiny robots, started developing, I emailed the authors and related organizations with links and information. It didn't take long before I received return communication from each of them.
From Ben Mikaelsen, author of a story about a cerebral palsy patient named Petey (the book titled Petey, as well), we received the following message:
What amazing students. I felt so honored you chose my book Petey for this wonderful project....You all get 'A's" from me. :-)
Louis Sachar, author of There's a Boy in the Girls' Bathroom, a wonderfully sweet story about a troubled boy and his school counselor, wrote:
Thanks... I'm honored. Say hi to your students from me, and also from my wife, Carla, who was a school counselor 30 years ago. With best wishes, Louis Sachar
Kate Messner, author of The Seventh Wish, the book that takes a girl through the confusion of her sister's heroin abuse, wrote:
Oh, what a great, fascinating project! Thanks for sharing the photos [and] the link! Best, Kate
Two of the other projects were based on my own books, Mumsket and Chippin Cleats, so students got face-to-face feedback from the author.
The last project was based on a series of events in American history - the Corps of Discovery (or, the Lewis and Clark Expedition). The "author" of that event in our past, Thomas Jefferson, is no longer living, so I tweeted to Monticello, the mansion and plantation owned by our third president, and the folks there retweeted it. A handful of followers even liked the retweet.
Hopefully these little gestures of response lend some authenticity to the project. Knowing their eyes have been on projects in which our students have participated is a connection we didn't know we could make at the time.
If you didn't see the projects for yourself, check the following links:
I can't adequately capture the last day of school in pictures. I don't even know why I try.
We started the day with our end-of-the-year slide show - over 600 photographs in 67 minutes, set to appropriate farewell music.
Pretty soon it was time to take our yearbooks to the gym where we conduct our traditional autograph session. Sometimes it's hard to know just the right things to write - something personal that will mean something to each student for years to come. We spent about an hour in the gym, with me sitting and signing with a line of autograph hounds in front of me.
Afterward, we returned to the slide show, and there may have been a couple of songs taken from our Veterans Day program in November. It was great to remember the program as the class sang along.
Finally, some students wanted to make speeches. Honestly, when a couple of them took to the stage, I wondered what they might say. I remembering thinking, This should be interesting. But they did not disappoint. They hit on the main points of our class this year, recognizing that we are different, that every person has improved, that we are a family, that everyone feels the support of his/her classmates, that we will never have this experience again. JOSIAH pointed to his head and his heart respectively, as he told us, "We may not remember each other here, but we will always remember each other here." In line going to get lunches, he also told some of his classmates, "Anyone who doesn't get teary-eyed, today, needs to find a heart."
The kids ate lunch on the back porch and played for just a couple of minutes before going back inside for a huge group hug and one last "Once a Hoggatteer, Always a Hoggatteer!" Lining up for the final departure turned out to be too much for some, and the waterworks began. While other classes were celebrating the last day of a torturous year of slavery, Hoggatteers were expressing a bond - a connection based on respect and love.
It's always interesting to this teacher which students are the most affected. Strangely, it's often that tough guy - the one who gets in trouble the most - who starts sobbing first. His face gets red and wet. His eyes are bloodshot. And he's not embarrassed because he is in the moment, experiencing loss and sentiment. He means it. His emotions are raw and real. Other students, again, reach out to him with support.
I'm still getting messages from supportive parents. It feels great to see that parents and students alike have appreciated my efforts. Even when I make mistakes, they know that I have put my all into their children. They understand that the love and concern that I have for their kids is genuine - that I want the best for each and every one of them.
So off we go into the summer season (which actually isn't until June 21). We shall enter the season with the relief, satisfaction, and fatigue of knowing that we have grown mightily during this school year.
Are you one of my new recruits or the parent of a new recruit? Stay in touch by commenting below or by emailing me over the summer! Most are already connected to our class on ClassDojo, but if you aren't, please let me know, and I'll get you set up. That way you can receive direct messages from me and send me messages, as well.
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