Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Back to School
So obviously this title is beyond fashionably late, but if you're the parent of a middle or high school student, it takes awhile to fully adjust to back to school mode. These first few weeks are filled with curriculum nights, expectations for advanced math, open houses, band rehearsals, informational meetings for sports and clubs, etc., etc.
Raise your hand if you haven't had two consecutive weeknights to yourself since early August.
Tonight's obligation turned out to be a very pleasant and emotional surprise. It was the Academic Letter Awards Program to observe academic excellence achieved by students in the previous school year. Anyone with a 3.5 or better Grade Point Average (out of four) received the award. There were 350 students recognized! Our oldest daughter Caitlin was among them. Her GPA is 4.66. I know. I'm bragging. How do you get .66 higher than the highest average? Honors classes. Lots of them.
Conant High School is the only one in the district to recognize academic excellence in an awards ceremony. I am so grateful it does.
Dan and I arrived an uncharacteristic 25 minutes before the start of the ceremony, naively thinking we were early and proceeded to make our way to the last two seats in the middle of the last row in the theater to watch our sophmore cross the stage when her name was called.
The first thing we noticed was how underdressed she appeared next to 97% of the girls (and keep in mind, these are the honor roll girls) who wore a runway-worthy buffet of stylish - and mostly extremely short - dresses. Caitlin was one of five girls wearing pants, but she looked beautiful.
The dressed-to-the-nines army did not go unnoticed by the principal who is the proud father of three girls himself. His youngest is a senior in college. He opened the evening with a short personal story of their family tradition of taking a picture of the girls on their first day of school, because it was always about the back to school outfit. He was full of wit and charm while he remembered the scene occuring across so many of our homes from kindergarten to college of frantically looking for the camera, posing in front of trees outside, almost missing the bus in the process and capturing the outfit - and with it the moment - that began each school year.
This week he received a text and instagram from his youngest daughter about three weeks into her final year of college with a photo of her back to school outfit and a message, "Thought I forgot, didn't you?" He said he was happy that she remembered and sad that it was the last back-to-school outfit he would see. I nearly cried.
That was the second time this week it hit me how fast this is all going and how very little of these school days we have left. How many times did you hear growing up, "Blink and it's over?" I certainly heard it a lot, but it turns out time picks up speed with each passing year.
After the principal's moving introduction the favorite teacher of the year gave an even shorter speech about making and achieving goals that stretch you out of your comfort zone.
The third speaker had the dubious task of pronouning the names of the 350 students from all ethnic backgrounds and earned at least an A- for his efforts.
Start to finish this program ran 35 minutes.
I was stunned. They should train graduation program coordinators how to do this.
After the ceremony there was a reception (basically cookies in a tremendously overcrowed foyer outside the theater) which we passed on in favor of a strawberry-banana smoothie from the McDonald's drive-through.
Because the really smart kids get out of the parking lot first on a school night.