When Dr. Barbara Shirley, Principal of Alta Vista Elementary School (“AVES”), invited me to attend their “Graduation Walk” I did not know exactly what I was in store for but I knew that I would be there to support the students and faculty of this wonderful school in any way that I could. I was already a volunteer mentor there to three third grade girls.
This was the first “Graduation Walk” during which the school honored and congratulated its graduating fifth graders, celebrated its rising fourth graders, and welcomed special guests who included 9 graduating seniors from area schools (one of whom actually graduated from AVES) who are going on to college, branches of the military or even technical school and several second generation parents (parents who graduated from AVES themselves and now had their children in the school).
After a brief reception, I joined the other guests outside to see the entire school from kindergarten to fourth grade lining the walkways around the school with signs and pom poms cheering and applauding the graduating fifth graders as they walked around the entire school. It was glorious!
You could see on the faces of everyone there – young and older – the pride and joy at being a part of this celebration! There were signs of encouragement everywhere. The children were loving it as were the teachers, parents, advisors and guests. It all led to the cafeteria/auditorium where there was a panel discussion and the fourth and fifth graders got to ask questions of the panel of senior graduates about middle school and college.
Besides being a phenomenal program, it makes the future a part of the discussion for these children from this very young age. They can see it. They can see the hard work that is needed. They can identify with those who have gone before them – those who have lived and struggled through many of the same things yet rose to meet the challenges and be successful.
This is how we encourage their dreams and help the children keep them alive! We can each be part of the discussion and the dream! Let’s do it – whether large or small, we all have a part to play.