Friday, June 12, 2015

Year 5: Week 38 – Ollie's Class Day

When I walked Ollie into the cafeteria of the school it was empty. It was Class Day, the last day of the school year and while we arrived at the normal start of the school day, the rest of the students were planning on arriving a couple hours later, which was the tradition on this day.

After getting some food, we sat down together and ate breakfast. I finally knew what it was like to sit down and have breakfast with my kid at school. Almost every morning I walk through the cafeteria to get some hot water to make a cup of tea and I see faculty whose children go to this school eating breakfast with their children, and I always feel a little jealous of them. It was the perfect way to start a day at school together: Sitting down to a relaxing meal and sharing a moment of peace over some scrambled eggs and bacon.

As teachers started arriving at school, Ollie waved at them as they walked down the hallway. People stopped to wave, say good morning to Ollie and attempt to give him hi-fives. Ollie responded with smiles and little waves, happy to receive the attention.

We explored the school and found the ramp up to the 8th grade atrium. Ollie slowly walked up the ramp and then ran down the ramp, screaming in joy. Then Ollie repeated this for the next ten minutes as students and other teachers stopped and smiled at his unbridled joy.

As students started filling the school Ollie found playmates. There was the 8th grade boy who played peek-a-boo with him through the side window of a classroom door, the 5th grade girl who helped Ollie sing his “ABCs” and one of my 7th graders who could not get over Ollie’s cuteness.

The response of the administration and the faculty was a clear expression that Ollie was welcome and treasured. Principals stopped to say “hello,” and almost every teacher insisted on stopping to have a conversation with him. I had seen this before with kids of other faculty members, this wonderful expression of joy that showed me that they valued my family as part of who I was as a teacher.

Signing yearbooks is a big part of this day and I usually sign a bunch of them. Most kids realized that I had Ollie to watch so many of them asked for Ollie’s signature as well as mine. While my students were excited to get my signature and a message from me, kids were even more overjoyed to get scribbles drawn by Ollie.

Before the end of the year assembly the 6th graders (about 70 of them) all gathered into the history classroom for announcements. I walked in as the meeting started holding Ollie as was greeted with a chorus of “aww’s.” The teachers settled the students down and I sat down with Ollie towards the front of the room surrounded by students. He made smiley faces at the students around him, interrupted the teachers making announcements with little chirps, but no one seemed to mind. At one point he decided to widely swing around in my lap, and the teachers and the students gave up for a second being focused and laughed at Ollie’s silliness.

By the time we walked into the gym, most of the school were settled in the seats. When I walked carrying Ollie in front of the 5th graders they erupted in greetings and waves towards Ollie. At first he clung closer to me, but then seeing the sea of smiling faces, he waved back, getting an even bigger response and giggled at the attention. He got a similar response from my 3rd graders.

The world isn’t all smiles and every group of people Ollie encounters is going to welcome him with open arms, but he doesn’t need to deal with this yet and for right now I love whenever he is in situations that shows him that people are wonderful and that life is beautiful. There’s a lot of things I love about my school, and so much of that was evident in the way that the school embraced my son on Class Day.

At my school we talked about being a model home, taking care of the people in our community and how each part of the school is important, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant. I feel this philosophy every day, and it made me feel proud and honored to have this expressed to my son on this very special day, the last day of school, at the close of my fifth year at this wonderful school.

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