A Note from the Principal: June 2017

Dear Families,

It’s June! When did that happen? As of the publication of our newsletter, there are only 16 school days before summer break. For fifth graders who started at Graham and Parks in Junior Kindergarten, today marks their 1,244th school day, give or take a few sick days and other unscheduled absences. That’s a lot of school days, probably the most they’ll spend as a student in any single educational institution. And during this time, they’ve grown from timid kindergartners to bold and opinionated early adolescents. It’s easy to get sentimental about the end of elementary school because it seems to mark the end of childhood. But of course it’s not so easy to carve nature at its joints. The end of elementary school is neither the end nor the beginning of a developmental stage; our fifth graders will still be children the day after school breaks for summer.

But with their elementary school days behind them, and middle school dead ahead, it’s a good time to reflect on the children they’ve become here at Graham and Parks. Two weeks ago, I joined our fifth graders on Thompson Island for their annual overnight trip. As principal, my job is to worry about them, especially when they’re outside the confines of the school building. They are still children, after all. A night away from home with their peers is a big step, and I thought that they might need to lean on their teachers for emotional support. But I was wrong. Our 5th graders walked off the boat confident and ready to be on their own. They formed their groups and headed off into the woods with their councilors, without so much as look back at their teachers. And I found myself in the peculiar situation of being a principal with nothing to worry about.

As I visited groups throughout the day, I saw the culmination of a Graham and Parks education. Our students were embracing new challenges, solving problems together, and having a heck of a good time doing it. For all that our students learn over the years, none of it matters as much as the bonds they form in our community and the real joy they find in each other’s company. Our 5th graders are heading to Vassal Lane, and other schools here and abroad, ready work, learn, and play together. And I’m not worried about them. Not one bit.