Endings and Beginnings

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“Placing a book on the shelf
is the end of a new beginning.
Picking up a book
is a start to a new end.”
       –Cate D.

Endings and beginnings are on my mind these days. And while leaving my students has made this ending hard, their words and encouragement and belief in me have eased the way.

Tomorrow is officially the last day of school. It is a half day, so not much gets done beyond the hugs and photos and yearbook signing. Today is the “real” end, especially for our eighth graders. The high-honors awards are in the morning, and then students divide by teams to receive content-area and other academic awards, along with their certificates of completion. I will never forget C’s joyous, jubilant reaction to the news that he was, indeed, going to high school. (He was pretty worried.)

At the end of the day, we return to the auditorium for the poetry jam. I am continually astonished by the words these thoughtful teenagers share. I know teenager-bashing is the norm these days (really, when hasn’t it been?) but if you could meet my kids, you’d know that the world is going to be just fine.

As a going-away present, the students collected money for me to buy a tree for the farm. I have been instructed to buy something beautiful, and indeed I will. Along with it, I will make something–some kind of sign–to indicate that my students were the contributors. A bench, to sit on while reading, seems appropriate.

Above that, though, they made me a book of their poems. They gifted me with their words–some chose a poem they wrote earlier in the year, others wrote new poems, just for me. I have already read through it twice. At the end of the day, the students I love recognized me in the currency I love: words. There could have been no greater gift.

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