Thursday, May 24, 2012

A very fond farewell

Today I wrote this letter to the teachers, staff, principals, music teachers & all the others I could think of who have been a part of my 3 kids' lives for the past umpteen years as they all went through the elementary schools in our little town. There are a few who have moved away, retired or are otherwise unreachable now, so I'm posting it here in hope that they will find it & read it some day. More about today after the letter. (slightly edited for posting here to protect our safety!)

Today is my youngest daughter's last day of Elementary School. I can hardly believe how quickly all three of our kids have passed through the ___ elementary system. Seems like only yesterday our oldest (who will be a Junior in the Fall) was starting Kindergarten and I was crying my way back to the car, astounded that she was big enough for this huge milestone.

Today my youngest moves on from "little girl" to "young lady". Today she ends one chapter of her life & begins a new one, full of new adventures that are going to rock her world.

Today is my last day to be a part of the ____ elementary family. We've been at (names of several campuses) over the years, but the last several have been at (name of last campus). I've served in many different capacities with the PTO and have loved that time so much! I've become close friends with many of my childrens' teachers and have remained close all these years later. (Thank goodness for Facebook & email!)

As our family embarks on the first year with only older kids, I am reminded of just how QUICKLY it all goes by. I know you do this year after year and you will be able to walk out of the building this afternoon to enjoy your freedom & quiet time that summer brings. But please know that you have each made a huge difference in the life of my children and for that, I am forever grateful. When we drive out of the parking lot today, we will look forward to the relaxation & sweetness of summer too, but we'll look over our shoulders as we drive away one last time & wave goodbye to the elementary years with great memories & lots of love.

Thank you for loving my children through these years. You may not hear it often enough, but please know that the R family appreciates you!!
Larry & Liz R, parents of Savannah, Samuel & Sarah

Today was truly bittersweet. Leaving behind this season of life (the season of having children young enough for elementary) is a big milestone. I thought I would handle it all pretty well, but the campus where Sarah attends has this sweet tradition that I got to witness today for the first time. It was probably especially poignant for me today because this was a 'last'.

Our elementary campuses hold Pre-K through 5th grade. On the last day of school, the 5th graders all line up in the hallway outside their classrooms and the rest of the school ---students, teachers, office staff, everyone(!) lines the halls to wave goodbye. They play sweet (read: tear-jerking, sad!) music over the speakers while the kids take a farewell walk through the school. They are able to hug their past teachers, wave goodbye to younger friends and just basically see all of the school for one last time. When the kids lined up this morning, all of the moms ran ahead & got the cameras ready to snap pictures & take video (and cry).

I knew it was going to be a tear-jerker, but wow.... the tears poured down my cheeks as the very first song began. It was "You've Got a Friend in Me" from Toy Story. As it ended, "I Hope You Dance" came on. The "big kids" walked down the halls, getting high fives from the littler ones, waving to everyone as they walked--their own special sort of parade. The P.E. teachers were ready with cans of silly string & quickly emptied them on all these kids who they have loved since they were tiny.

A couple of the other moms and I made a quick run to the other side of the campus to see them make their final lap before returning to their classrooms and that's when I really got weepy. This last circle of the building was where all the Pre-K kids were lined up to wave goodbye to the kids. The Pre-K kids were tiny compared to the 5th graders! They were SO excited to get to high five the "big kids" as they came past. Oh my soul....weren't our big 5th graders JUST 4 years old? It was yet another reminder about blinking and missing things. How quickly it goes by!

Enjoy these pictures of the 5th grade farewell walk. Just sing the Toy Story song in your head as you look through these. You may need a Kleenex before you get to the end!

(You can see Sarah in this one---brown shorts & long hair)
My heart is full tonight. My sweet kids went from looking like this on the first day of school this year...... this on the last day of school. My, how they've grown.

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