Last week I was exhausted and I didn’t know why. Then I realized that graduation ceremonies are so emotionally draining its a wonder that we don’t just implode like a bad cake after they are over.
This year we held two ceremonies… one for our 6th grade and one for 8th grade. We just added our middle school last year so it is the first time we ever had 8th graders graduate. We had a debate about whether it should be called a graduation ceremony or a promotion ceremony. It was a debate that didn’t last long because in the end it doesn’t matter. Our students are moving on and there is a deep and inexplicable sadness about that. The next time we see some of these 8th grade boys they will have full beards and they will be big enough to block out the sun when they walk onto the campus. The girls? They will become more extraordinary by the day.
Much of what we do at El Milagro is build culture: a sense of connection and trust and commitment to our students and their families. So when our students leave us… it doesn’t really matter who the speakers are or whether we have the right combination of balloons and bunting or whether the ceremony is aptly named. Those children are gone and those relationships cannot be replaced. And that realization explains a lot about why we are so exhausted at the end of graduation week… and why the bittersweet joy of watching children blossom is tempered by having to say good-bye.
After the graduation-promotion ceremony we took a lot of pictures. Some kids climbed into a limo that was roughly the size of a battleship. Others walked around and hugged each other and cried. Fernando spilled punch on his shoes and the carpet. The music played for the next half hour while families slowly peeled off for dinner and two white balloons untied themselves and silently slipped into the jet stream.