The last few weeks of school are always the toughest for me, and I know they are the toughest for my students as well. As a mother who has children attending school in a neighboring county on a different schedule, it is especially tough to leave my boys to come to school when I know they are already out for the summer.
Late May is no time to be in school for any of us, right? Trying to stay motivated and keep others motivated is even more difficult. Yet, I am glad the week was not entirely a wash. This past Monday Mrs. Taylor and I worked together to develop what we have dubbed "The Senior Forum."
In education, I have learned if you want anything to sound legitimate you can just give it a fancy name, and people will start to call it by that name and believe it is a real thing long enough that it eventually becomes a real thing. Such is the case with our forum. As a side note, Mrs. Taylor and I have been teaching next door to each other for our entire careers here at Pace High. We became fast friends in 2004 and have never left each other's side. While this was not part of the forum, I highly recommend finding a friend like Mrs. Taylor, although I must warn you this will be no easy task. She is truly one in a million. Maybe some of you will be fortunate enough to have her as a teacher for your senior year, but if not, I hope you at least find a friend that will see you through the ups and downs of life and will make you laugh even on difficult days. If you do, you will have found one of life's greatest treasures.
For years, Mrs. Taylor and I have wanted to partner freshmen with seniors for an open discussion, but it never worked out because we both taught upperclassmen. When I decided to teach freshmen this year, we both knew we wanted to make that goal a reality, which is what we did this past Monday.
We joined our classes in the media center with two seniors sitting at a table with two freshmen. We started the session with a panel of seniors who answered questions posed by freshmen. My freshmen created these questions the previous week and Mrs. Taylor's seniors previewed the questions ahead of time. The questions ranged from academic to social questions such as: What course would you recommend students take online? or Did your friend group get larger or smaller by senior year? A freshman student pulled a question from the hat and the senior panel (of eight of so) responded. After the panel discussion, freshmen and seniors worked together with a poetry activity that reflected their high school experience, and then the seniors read handwritten letters to freshmen and gave them a chance to ask any questions they might have. In my opinion, one of the coolest parts of the day was having the seniors see the freshmen and realize how far they had come in their four years and having the freshmen see where they were headed. We, English teachers, go crazy over anything that involves coming full circle. We can't help it. It's in our blood.
All of this to say, I hope you guys enjoyed the day and remember it for a long time. I also hope in the next few years you will, likewise, help some freshmen find their way. I am proud of how far you guys have come this year and cannot wait to see how far you will go in the future.