Photo: Photo by Gabby Orcutt on Unsplash

You did it. Another year of school has come and gone. Another grade you have walked newly into unknowing of what lay ahead. You have worked, struggled, excelled, and conquered. You aced some spelling tests, you learned some new math problems, you made some new friends. All of this is a really big deal. Some things you didn’t do so well on, you forgot your homework a few times. You almost missed the bus on (many) occasion, and you came home from school sick once or twice. All of this is a little deal. What truly matters in the middle of all of the moments that add up to your whole year is that through it all, you faced the challenges with grit and spirit. You helped others along the way. And you let others give you a helping hand, too. I am so proud of you.

Never will you have this year again. Next year will brand new and you will surely walk into it with a little bit of worry, a little bit of excitement, and a little of “let’s do this” attitude because that’s what makes you the amazing kids you are. It is hard to start new things, and yet you do. It is even harder to end some things. You are doing it beautifully. You opened your heart and your mind to your teacher, your school, and your whole class and now you must say goodbye to the group you have been for the last nine months. Maybe it is a relief, maybe you are excited for the next year and new things. Maybe it is sad and you wish you could stay forever. Maybe it’s both. It can be everything. It’s normal to feel all the big feelings so don’t try to keep them hidden away, or think you have to pretend not to care. It’s good to care. Your teachers and classmates care about you and were lucky to have you with them.

If you are celebrating though, all excitement for lazy summer days, sleeping in late, swimming and biking and hanging out with friends, don’t forget to stop and remember all the hard work you have done to get to the fun. Because you did work so hard and learn so many new things. You were challenged and tested and stretched to do better than you may have ever thought you could do. Even if it doesn’t feel like it, know that you did. Give yourself a second to be proud of that. Let it all sink in.

This is the last time you will be this old and, in this grade, and maybe even in this school because you are growing bigger every day and becoming exactly who you are meant to be. Keep learning, keep being kind, keep talking about it as you go, keep looking out for the underdogs, and doing your very best no matter how it compares to anyone else. Keep thinking positive even when things are hard, keep reading and writing, and always keep laughing.

And a special note to the moms and dads reading this, I know it feels like the year went by so fast even though the days were long and the homework hard. You did a great job too. Take a few minutes (or days!) to remind yourself of all your amazing accomplishments (like the last minute project you busted out with your kid until late at night, or how you got up earlier than your kids every morning just to pack lunches, set out their bags, or have a moment of sanity to be the best mom or dad you can be), and how important that is. Kids don’t always remember to say thank you, but they are, thankful. Nice job. Maybe it wasn’t always pretty, trust me, I know, the bus came early around here and it was a hot mess getting out the door half the time! But we kept doing it every day, and we’ll keep getting better. (Or hopefully, the bus will get later!) Either way, it’s a group effort most days, and your kids are blessed to have such incredible people cheering them on as they began, and now end, this school year.  Cheers to you all!

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Whatever next year will bring, whatever grade hangs in the future waiting to welcome your sweet little faces and your shiny new shoes, know that you will rock that one just like you did this one. But not yet. It is time to relax and soak up every second of summer before the long yellow school bus pulls back up in front of our house at the crack of dawn in three short months. (I swear I’m not counting!) Now, who wants ice cream!?