Graduation. For many, the word brings up images of high school or college ceremonies. But hundreds of local students completing middle school, elementary school and sometime even preschool will take part in graduation ceremonies in June as well.
While any graduation is an opportunity to reflect on the past and ponder the future, graduation from elementary school marks a major life change for 11-year-olds. For the first time, they will not learn reading, writing, math and science from one classroom teacher. Instead, there will be different teachers for every subject. Different classrooms too. Different classmates. Different rules and expectations. Lockers. Band. Sports.
High school and college graduations mark the culmination of four years of study, while elementary school graduation only comes after a full six years. Fifth-graders who attended co-op preschools at Vaughn or Evergreen Elementary will have spent the past eight years as proud Huskies or Eagles.
All over the Key Peninsula, soon-to-be-sixth-graders are approaching this milestone with wisdom, foresight and excitement about the future.
“What graduation means to me is growing up—moving to a new part of life,” said Vaughn fifth-grader Daymian Miller. “And last but not least, just experiencing new things.”
For his classmate Ena Bailey, elementary school will be something to remember forever. “Hopefully we will all look back at our years at Vaughn and never forget them, because this only happens once in a lifetime.”
Finishing up the elementary years will be an opportunity to try new things for Levi Hook. “I can do band,” he said. “I have always wanted to do band.”
At Evergreen, moving on will give students a chance to appreciate what they have achieved so far and get excited for what comes next.
“It means celebrating how hard we’ve worked in the past years of school,” said Kaisa Chambers.
Mia Hausvik presented a stoic view of the occasion and stated that graduation is a time to “accept that your life is going to change and move on with it.”
For Julian Russum, Evergreen teachers had high standards, but will be missed. His graduation thoughts center on “how hard I have worked for five years and all the caring teachers I’ve known.”
Fifth-graders at Minter Creek also had mixed emotions.
To Addy Johnson, the event equals more responsibilities, but more fun too. “Graduation means you are finally an older kid, you get treated like one, you get more work, and it’s an amazing experience, or so I have heard,” she said.
“It is a time to have a new start at a new school with new friends and new teachers,” said classmate Chelsea Bass, who added that although she may be moving on, she won’t be a stranger to the elementary school she’s known and loved. “I will always be back to help whenever they need it,” she said.
Harley Graves viewed graduation as a worthy accomplishment. “I can feel like I did something amazing. I can feel like I did something very grand that I did very well on, that I succeeded,” Harley said.
As Key Peninsula citizens born between September 2006 and September 2007 move on in their lives, a more important question might be whether the Key Peninsula is prepared for them. As Vaughn Elementary student Kiera Mays said of herself and her peers, “Fifth-grade graduation means that we’re ready for this new stage, and the world better be ready because we’re coming, and we’re coming full speed ahead.”
Photo credits: Upper row (Vaughn) Ted Olinger, KP News; Middle row (Evergreen) Lisa Bryan, KP News; Lower row (Minter Creek) Alice Kinerk, KP News