I’m getting all sentimental today, and that’s so rare for me that I thought the moment needed to be captured and recorded.
The Class of 2017 is about to graduate high school. There are so many kids in that class that mean so much to me, and I’m so proud and excited for everything they have and will accomplish. I spent most of the day giving my senior Student Council members their gifts (Dr. Seuss’ Oh the Places You’ll Go! signed by all of their teachers). I passed out their Student Council stoles to go over their graduation robes. I got so many hugs. I didn’t have to say goodbye, because we still have our end of the year party and graduation.
But all this got me thinking about the Class of 2018, and how I’m going to feel this time next year. I know you’re probably wondering why I’m getting so ahead of myself. Let me give you a little background info.
Two years ago my school implemented something new called “advisory.” The idea behind it was to give every single student at our school a connection to an adult who cared about them. Each teacher was given 15 to 20 kids and we were tasked with creating a family within our advisories that would last all three years these kids are at Har-Ber. It got off to a rough start and there are still a ton of kinks to work out, but overall I think this has been one of the best things our school has ever done.
I got my advisory kids when they were sophomores (they’re about 2 weeks away from finishing their junior year now). They were all so timid and shy and scared. They didn’t know each other from Adam and they didn’t talk. Ever. But over the last two years, we have grown together, we have all learned each other’s names, we’ve created study groups, celebrated birthdays, had parties just so we had excuses to bring food to school, and loved on each other. We goof off together, we talk about class schedules, jobs, college applications, the ACT, graduation, and everything that comes after.
I love all of my students. You all know that. But this advisory group is special to me because I’ve been with them for their entire high school career. They’re my kids. They joke with me all the time, asking me what I’m going to do without them after they graduate. I laugh and tell them I’ll just get another group of kids who aren’t nearly as annoying, but they see right through that. The truth is that I’ll be a wreck. I’ve watched some of my favorite students graduate and I’ve missed them after they’re gone, but this is the only group of kids I’ve had that I’ve kept for a full three years. Advisory isn’t even an actual class. It’s a place where kids come and form relationships with each other and their advisory teacher. It’s a place where we celebrate each other. It’s a place where we check grades and attendance, where we challenge each other to do better, where we push each other.
It’s a place where Javie and Nick act like they’re sitting alone in their own world until someone cracks a joke and you hear them laugh.
It’s a place where Ana and Roxana don’t have to be shy anymore.
It’s a place where Kenzie, Magdline, and Karita watch funny YouTube videos.
It’s a place where Anna and Nayeli talk about books – usually with me.
It’s a place where Meghan sits and works quietly on homework, pitching in on conversations from across the room.
It’s a place where Andrew gets everyone involved in a game or a study session because no one is more friendly and personable. I swear that kid is going to be President some day. I’d vote for him in a heartbeat (…don’t tell him I said that…).
It’s a place where Katie brings her famous sugar cookies. Seriously, they’re so good my mouth is watering just thinking about them. She gave me the recipe but something tells me mine won’t taste the same.
It’s a place where Kim and Amy give Daniel a hard time for trying to copy their homework, only to stop and help him understand the problems.
It’s a place where Allison, Morgan, and Savanna throw dance parties when we all need to relieve some tension.
It’s a place where we’re all safe.
We don’t always get along, but we always respect each other and we always care about each other. We have a pretty diverse group but we’ve managed to come together and I am so proud of them for that. They did that on their own. I had nothing to do with it.
I am not an emotional or sentimental person. Anyone who knows me can attest to that. I made it through my own graduation without even tearing up. I didn’t cry at my wedding either. I’m just not a crier. It’s not intentional, it just….is.
But I know I’ll be a wreck when these kids graduate.
I’m talking a “crawl up in a little ball and cry in the corner” kind of wreck.
I try not to think about it. I try to remember that I still have a year left with them. I’ve got all these ideas for their senior year and how we can make it their best year yet. But yeah, I’m going to miss them when they’re gone. And I don’t even know if they have any idea how much.
Honestly, I’m seriously considering not even posting this because I’m hesitant of giving them too big of an ego boost. I just know Morgan is going to saunter in here on Monday with a grin on her face, telling everyone, “You guys, Mrs. C is so going to lose it when we graduate,” and then they’re all gonna want to make fun of me or hug me or both.
Bleh…sentimentality is sooo not my thing.
I can’t help it though, because this is the group of kids who snuck around behind my back to plan a birthday party for me. They showed up with cookies and cupcakes and presents.
This is the group of kids that became friends with each other in spite of different racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds.
This is the group of kids that comes in and willingly agrees to help each other with math and chemistry and AP US History homework. They study together without me forcing them.
This is the group of kids who I’ve watched grow from scared and nervous sophomores to confident and charismatic juniors. They are no longer shy. They are no longer afraid. They are ready to take their senior year by the reigns and make it their best year yet.
I can’t wait for their senior year. I can’t wait to share that with them. Even though I know it means that my time with them is dwindling, they’ll never leave me for good. They’ll always have a special place in my heart as my first advisory group. They put up with a lot from me: my sometimes unorthodox teaching methods, my general weirdness, my lack of knowledge of anything that’s going on…ever.
They’re the best people to play Jenga, Hangman, and Heads Up with. They throw the best birthday parties. They make the best cookies. They have fun together and I love how they’re always laughing.
They’ve got one more year in room D105 and I can’t wait to help them fill out college or job applications. I can’t wait to watch them grow even more. I can’t wait to celebrate their birthdays. I can’t wait to take them to High Rise next May when they beat me in our bet and pass all of their classes and graduate on time.
I can’t wait for the memories in room D105 with Mrs. Cockrell’s advisory for the Class of 2018.
And as sad as I know I’m going to be, I can’t wait to stand with them in that tunnel at Bud Walton Arena. I can’t wait to be a part of the staff honor line that they walk through as they enter the Arena as high school students, and then again when they leave as graduates ready to embark on a new adventure.
I can’t wait to catch up with them later and see how their lives are doing.
Because these are my kids, and whether they like it or not they’re stuck with me.