I am sure my senior year of high school I lamented that I was experiencing my last homecoming parade. Little did I know years later I would once again participate with my jump rope team.
The high school next door to my elementary school is the most diverse high school in the country. While I stood in the hot parking lot watching the floats get put together by energetic cheerleaders, student body council members, and the ESOL drama club, I wished I had a camera to take a picture of the homecoming court members. The court reflected the population of the high school as a fantastically diverse group of teenagers. I love that the kids I teach grow up in a community where diversity is what happens naturally.
This was the second time my team had participated in the parade and I admit it's not my favorite activity. High school homecoming might have been fun the first time around (maybe) but by now I don't really need the walk down memory lane. Plus, the last time I chaperoned this trip I ended up yelling at the skateboarding club for trying to flirt with my 4th grade girls. I literally pushed some of my jumpers away from these boys. I wasn't looking forward to playing this protective role again.
Luckily this year we marched between the ESOL drama club and the Hispanic heritage club so we were protected by some of my children's cousins, as well as caring high school girls. It was interesting to watch my team react to the high schoolers though. One set of 5th girls have been best friends at least since 3rd grade when I met them. Friday showed an example of how different they've grown in the last few years. One squealed with delight at having talked to Sponge Bob, (who had been outfitted with a long mustache and sombrero for the parade...) but the other glanced around frequently, very self-aware of the high school students all around. One seemed to still be a child, excited to be around her friends, and uncaring about the opinions of the rest of the world. My heart went out to her friend who had ended childhood and was onto her teenage angst. Why can't we slip from being a happy 4th grader into being a confident adult?
The parade went well despite the hot October weather. As expected, my jumpers leaped for the candy thrown by other marches though it was intended for the families who put out their lawn chairs to watch the parade. Is it fair to ask elementary school kids to participate in a parade and not expect them to run for the candy?
Michelangelo looked at a piece of marble and said "there is my sculpture! I just have to chip away all the parts that don't belong". Growing up is the opposite. You grow into yourself. That's why we can't go from 4th to 12th grade. Oh that it were so.
As we teach, we experience all this with them, don't we?
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