This baby is graduating grade school!

Can you believe it!? This cute little thing just graduated from grade school, and is ready to tackle the next big world, known as middle school, in the coming fall.

All grown up!!

My good nature usually forbids me from bragging, but the key word today is “usually”, so, brace yourselves for earnest bragging here.

My heart overflowed with pride when my 11-year-old stepped up to the podium to deliver her graduation speech to a great hall jam packed with students, teachers, parents, families, and friends. She was one of the four students chosen to deliver speeches for their prospective classrooms.

Graduation speech

She is a great speaker. Her speech was awesome!

After the student speeches, she was one of the a dozen or so students brought back up to the stage again to receive the all-year gold honor roll award.

I sat in the audience, beaming with pride the whole time, and very satisfied with my accomplished youngster. But there was MORE…

Every year, our school presents one special award to a graduating 6th grader who is the best overall student. This award is given to a student not only for academic achievement, but also who is well-rounded, in terms of social, emotional, extracurricular participation, and behavior excellence. And the winner of this award is chosen by our 6th grade teachers.

We were thrilled to hear Athena’s name being announced by our principal as the recipient of this award for the class of 2012.

Graduation awards

In case you are wondering…no, I am NOT a tiger mom. There is one strong clue in my child’s graduation speech that proves my non-tiger mom status.

Below is Athena’s 6th grade graduation speech:

Over the Years

When I started elementary school, I didn’t know what to expect. It just seemed so different from the small Montessori school I attended for preschool and pre-k. I was used to just playing educational games all day, eating snacks, lunch, having naptime, and more snacks, so I was filled with questions like: Will kindergarten be the same? Will the teachers and the other students be nice? Will we still have snacks? I hoped kindergarten would be fun for me. So I stepped into the little gate around the kindergarten building and began my time here at JFS.

Every year I liked being here more and more. In kindergarten, we did little kindergarten things like teddy-bear picnics. That doesn’t happen in other grades. First grade was also a good time, and was different still from the previous year because it was full-day instead of half-day. We even ate school lunch. In second grade, I made two good friends that are still my friends now. We were also in the same class in third grade, which was, for me, very unlike second grade. I was in a combo class, and since half of my teacher’s time was devoted to the 2nd graders, many 3rd graders learned to become more independent learners. Fourth was an exciting, somewhat stressful year when we started getting letter grades. Now, instead of being the biggest of the little kids, we were the littlest of the big kids. In the fifth grade, my class took part in a project called NaNoWriMo, which was a fun month-long novel-writing experience. Many students, including me, even published our books. Now, in sixth grade, my class is doing many fun projects. Previously, on Young Author’s Fair, students wrote random stories, but this year, we wrote a journal of someone that lived in an ancient civilization, then made a poster, artifact, and diorama to go with it. Every year brought new pleasures and surprises, ones that made my time at JFS all the more enjoyable.

Probably everyone here has people to thank, people that have helped them through their time at JFS. There are many people who deserve the sincerest gratitude. There’s teachers, parents, friends, even siblings that may have helped us through our six or seven years here. My parents have always been supportive of me and happy to help me whenever I needed. They don’t do my work for me, but they always will help if I have questions about my homework or troubles with my projects. Even my little sister helps me with my schoolwork, in her own little-sister way. Whenever I’m doing a project that looks fun, she always buzzes around my shoulder, constantly asking, “Can I help? Oh, you want the clay? I’ll get the clay! Then after that, can I help you?” Friends also can be helpful, encouraging, excited at your successes and disappointed about your failures. They comfort you when you do badly and try to help you do better. And of course, all the wonderful teachers here at JFS. They are always open to any questions, listen to new ideas, are fair with assignments and tests, and go through lessons thoroughly and clearly. Every year, they have tried in any way to help shape all of the students into good kids, and they have succeeded.

So this ends our time at James F. Smith. We’ve learned everything we need for now and thanked those who have helped us. We’ve said goodbye to everyone here, some we may not see again, we’ve finished our last assignment, we’ve eaten our last cafeteria lunch, we’ve received our last report card. Every year, students are excited for the beginning of summer, the marking of when you finish your previous grade and get ready to start your next year. This summer, there will be that same excitement, but mixed in with a dose of sadness of leaving the school we’ve been at for so long and apprehensiveness at starting something entirely new. But this time, there will be a proud knowledge, too. The knowledge that we will start middle school knowing that we have been prepared to tackle any challenge posed to us.

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