Thursday, February 13, 2014

Hooray, Doam Graduation Day!

Today, the sixth graders graduate from Doam Elementary School -- I'm real excited for them, and Moonee tells me that they're excited, too. It's been pretty clear that their time has come, size-wise. I grapple at how ginormous they look when they stand in the lunch line next to the first graders or even up to the fourth graders for that matter (and equally at how tiny-independent the youngest grades are). Whenever I peek into the sixth grade classrooms, I chuckle a little because they are too big for the Doam Elementary desks. They're growing up, and it's time for them to move on.

Of course, I'm extremely sad to see them leave. Two of the sixth grade girls came into the English classroom early this morning to say goodbye. They explained that this was their last day at Doam and that they were sad but happy. They each then gave me a hug, which surprised me and made me feel very sentimental. I loved my sixth grade classes -- coming up with lesson plans and games was a challenge but teaching them always included a lot of laughs. They'll do great in middle school. But I miss them already.

The graduation ceremony took place in the Doam lunchroom-auditorium. Both the sixth and fifth grade classes carried their desk chairs down from their classrooms ("The fifth graders are here for the singing," Moonee explained to me), forming rows in front of the stage. The school orchestra played their favorite songs (i.e. the songs I've been hearing them practice for the past four-and-a-half months) to my honest delight. They're really good at those songs now. Parents, grandparents, siblings, and other family members crowded in behind the student rows, hands full of flowers, candy, and cameras that were snapping away.

The ceremony was pretty standard, lasting about an hour. I sort of wish I could understand what was being said, but the grandmas dozing in the back cued me in that the dialogue wasn't too gripping. I enjoyed seeing all the families (family resemblance gets me every time), and I liked seeing how the sixth graders graduated. They were called up to the front in groups of eight or so. They faced the audience before they faced one of their family members to recite a passage and hand their family member this frame I had seen them putting together earlier this week. Then, they were called up one by one to receive their diploma from the President. 

I peeked over the shoulder of one of the moms to see what the frame held -- a glowing (photoshopped) picture of her son and a bunch of written Hangugo, the Korean language. Really nice, wall-worthy stuff. There was a slide show, loud singing (thanks 5th grade!), and then it was over. Congrats, sixth grade -- don't ever change your enthusiastic goof-ball ways <3

It was a good last day of school. Short and sweet, never get in the way of Koreans leaving an event. I'm impressed at how quickly the playground cleared of cars. I like that I was able to see everything today; it was indeed a special day, a happy day. I wish all the time I could have a more active role but being able to observe/be slightly creepy with the picture taking/think about it all is enough for now. I'm very grateful. And I do like the bowing. Respect and acknowledgement feels much more genuine with a gesture. 

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