Monday, June 13, 2011

Last day of school

Mouse and her friends, all members of the apparently notorious "Ant Club."

Mouse and her teachers: Ms. Carol (teacher's assistant) and Mr. Jason, who
substituted for Ms. Ellings during her maternity leave.

Mouse with her beloved Ms. Ellings.

Bear with his teacher, Ms. Wrobleski.

Jaybird and Mr. Eric.

Jaybird and Ms. Heather (teacher's assistant).

We had two children “bridging” on the last day of school (June 8): Jaybird is moving from Children’s House to E1, and Mouse is moving from E1 to E2. (For the uninitiated, in the Montessori method, children stay in the same classroom for three years at a time.)

That meant a real marathon for Mom and Dad and little Mudpuppy. We arrived at school at 9:30 for Jaybird’s bridging ceremony, stayed for cake and then a picnic in Mouse’s classroom, then stayed for Mouse’s bridging ceremony. We got out of there around 1 pm—long past Mudpuppy’s nap time. He held up pretty well, considering!

It was a TEARFUL day. Some of the children bridging from Children’s House to E1 cried, and that made their teachers cry, and that made everyone in the audience cry. Jaybird did not cry, although she said she ALMOST did.

They keep the Children’s House bridging ceremony very simple: there are no speeches from the teachers, no preamble of any kind, other than a short concert of songs that the children have learned during their years in Children’s House (“Days of the Week,” “Seven Continents,” etc.). Each child is called to the front by their teacher, who says a few words about all the child has accomplished during her time in Children’s House. Then the child receives a spider plant, which she carries over a bridge on the stage; on the other side of the bridge, she is greeted by the E1 teachers.

Mr. Eric, Jaybird’s teacher for the past three years, had some very kind words to say. “You have grown so much in your skills and confidence,” he said. “You are a graceful person, always kind to the little ones.” And always responsible and respectable. “I will not forgot how much you learned about friends. A lot of people want to be your friend; you should continue that in E1.”

After the Children’s House bridging, we went to a pizza picnic in Mouse’s classroom. The kids, including Mouse, were WIRED. Eating lunch on the classroom floor with her, plus Mudpuppy (who naturally wanted to explore), plus Jaybird, was a challenge.

The students had spent the morning making friendship bracelets for the departing third year children; all the third years also received laminated sheets with comments, compliments, and farewell messages from all their classmates and teachers. Mouse just glowed over that.

Mouse’s bridging ceremony was a little different than Jaybird’s; each student was paired up with another student in the class who said something nice about the bridging student; then each student walked across the bridge (with a lot more confidence and poise than we saw in the Children’s House kids!).

The real drama began after the bridging ceremony, when it was time to say goodbye. I went to get Mouse in her classroom and told her it was time to go, and she just bent her head and began weeping, obviously trying to hide it. Several of her classmates saw her and came over and gave her hugs and said goodbye, which made her cry even harder. Her teachers also came over and gave her hugs, and we managed to get a few pictures of her with them.

The floodgates really opened when we got home, though. She cried off and on for two days, especially in the evenings! She is really devastated that her close-knit group of friends is breaking up. One is leaving for another school; another is moving to China; and another will be staying in the same school, but with only a one in three chance of being in the same classroom. She will also have new teachers next year, and she really loves the ones she has had.

We tried to console her with an ice cream treat at the Lakeview, to no avail.

Kind of a warm-up for things to come, hmm???

Bear’s end of year story is pretty straightforward: he’s glad to be done, and sorry his teacher won’t be returning next year.

Here is a short video of Jaybird's bridging ceremony. There is lots of background noise due to the 30+ preschoolers in the room.