Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Rose

The One Hundred and Fourth Annual Commencement ceremony for our graduating Eighth Grade students included a recently added tradition called Presentation of Roses.

Each graduate stands on the stage and presents a rose to an adult they deem deserving of thanks and recognition for the love, support, and guidance they've provided.

The decision does not come without a lot of contemplative handwringing.

Last year, I was honored by my tearful little cupcake who was filled with such emotion that she could not finish explaining why she chose me.  This angelic child found a way to touch my heart one last time before she flew off into the world.

This year the scene unfolded a little differently but I equally moved.

First, there is a little backstory.

In 2012, the graduating Eight Grade class asked me to be their keynote speaker.  I prepared a brief speech outlining some life lessons based on Curious George.  As I spoke I tossed out a little stuffed George every once in a while just to make sure they were paying attention.

This year one of the 2015 graduates quietly asked if I had any of those stuffed Curious George toys left. The message was clear.  This really cool eighth grader wanted a Curious George stuffed animal. Adorable!  So, I brought one to the commencement ceremony to give to him afterwards.

It turns out that when it came time for the presentation of the roses he called my name.

On stage he handed me the rose and I handed him the stuffed George.  When we quickly hugged he said, "I love you man!"

These fabulous kids, they are killing me!


37paddington said...

Oh Gary, this is so beautiful it brings tears to my eyes. When all the bureaucratic red tape is happening and its making you insane, think of this kid, and all the kids whose lives you brighten in ways you're not even aware. That kid wanted to Curious George stuffed animal as a reminder of you. Because you showed him something about himself and how to live. Something good and true and lasting. That's why he called your name.

Gary said...

You are so right. I may need to dance in both worlds but I can live in the one that brings me joy. I have taught some pretty amazing children who are growing into some pretty amazing adults. That brings me joy.

Steve Reed said...

What a great story. He'll remember you all his life. I find working with kids at the American School that it's a skill to be able to open yourself up to young people. I succeed part of the time, but you do it amazingly well!

Gary said...

Steve - When I first started teaching I wondered if the kids would remember their early elementary experience or me at all because they were so young. It's interesting to me to talk to them now about what they remember. It's not so much the moments but the overall positive feeling of energy and happiness.

I bet you are wonderful with the young ones. You have patience and joy. Those are two things they need most from us.


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