Last Thursday, May 10, 2012, was one of the duties each year that I most look forward to and dread, all at the same time: graduation. As a high school teacher, I am expected to attend graduation, and sit with all the other faculty on the floor behind the graduates (and in front of the band) while hundreds of people stare down at us from the bleachers. While graduation is such a special rite of passage that I am honored to be a part of, each year there are always students who I will miss, making the occasion bittersweet.
This year's graduation was especially difficult, for several reasons. Among this year's graduating class were some of my favorite students to ever grace the hallways of RCHS, including my first cousin Jared, and my student aide this year, Sydney. Along with these two were also about 25 other students who were in both my Honors English I and II classes, which created a special bond with that group who endured my antics for two solid years. :)
These students were not only exceptional when it came to their schoolwork, but they were just nice kids who genuinely cared about each other, and even about me. They were in my class the year that I became a mom, and one of them even visited me in the hospital. They wrote me notes about how much they missed me while I was on maternity leave. One of them lost his father his sophomore year while he was in my class, and we tried our best to show him how much we all cared. Even when they weren't my students and were upperclassmen, they would pop in my class to visit, or buy a snack from me in the afternoons, or even come play Just Dance on the last day of school. One of them even made the choice to work in my classroom (and I seriously put her to work) every day of her senior year, a decision not many students would make when there were plenty of easier classes available. One of those students I had for two years is also my first cousin, and watching him grow up and become a young man has been remarkable. All in all, this senior class was just one of my favorite groups to interact with, and watching them graduate broke my heart just a little bit.
When Sydney (who was also the class president) mentioned my name in her speech, I simply lost it. I am already an emotional person by nature, but in a career where sometimes you don't feel as though you see the fruition of your work, or many days you go home feeling as though your students don't "get it," it was the moment that validated every ounce of energy I have poured into my work and made me realize that if all I ever do is touch one student and a make a difference in one life, it has been totally worth it. It was one of those nights when I remembered why I love my job.
After the emotion of graduation, it was fun to watch the students let loose at Project Graduation and enjoy a few hours as "kids," singing karaoke, jumping/sliding on inflatables, and stuffing themselves with food. It was a joy to witness and participate in their last few hours as RCHS students, and I will be forever grateful that our paths crossed.
Congratulations, Class of 2012! Mrs. Davidson loves you!