Friday I drove 8.5 hours back to TN to witness the graduation of my very first batch of students. I doubted any of them would be looking for me (most stopped saying hello in the hallway after their junior year. They're so awkward. I say it with love), but I wanted to see them for my own sake. Imagine my pleased surprise that quite a few did notice me and were genuinely excited to see me, offering hugs without any prompting. Some of my students from this year were there and they were all waving and calling to me. Two from the band jumped up and ran over to me and gave me big hugs. Sweet, sweet girls. Back to the graduates. All the seniors had smiles permanently lighting up their faces. They were glowing and giggly and just so thrilled, as they should be. Some of these kids were the first to graduate in their family, which made the victory all the more sweeter. When the band struck up "Pomp & Circumstance," the teachers began ushering everyone into line. You could see everyone stand up a little straighter, and the smiles wobbled a little bit. Some from nerves, others from emotions, and I saw quite a few girls choking back tears. I had to turn away or I feared I would lose it!
Two years ago, they were little punky fifteen-year-olds. They were just babies! And now, they are high school graduates!! I have seen many of them grow up SO MUCH in those two years. Some truly amazing transformations. I was so incredibly blessed at this school with some truly amazing, wonderful, lovable students. I sometimes get hung up on the negatives - things I could have done better, students I failed in some way, or students that just drove me crazy. You know the laundry list. But I cannot forget I had so many more amazing, lovable kiddos.
I will definitely have to go next year also, since I worked harder to maintain relationships with my second year kids. I can't wait!