Monday I had the honor of attending my boys' 8th grade graduation. I was excited as most parents were to see them dress in a tie and slacks instead of a white tee and baggy jeans and march in front of their peers and parents. They've worked hard during junior high to do well and move to the next level. I felt bad though as I have been fighting this feeling all week of a little something stirring inside of me. It begin as I watched an acquaintance fussing over invitations to her daughter's 8th grade party that was well over $3000 for the party cost. Standing in line to buy a balloon was a mother who was fussing about the graduation cake, her mother who was not attending and the whole family being upset about it, the $300 suit her son would be wearing etc etc etc only to find her sitting a few rows down from me at the graduation ceremony. Am I really that non-chalent about this whole thing? It seems that everywhere I look this 8th grade graduation is a serious ordeal. Boys wear ties, girls' are dressed like it's prom, with 10 inch heels to match, flowers and car decorations with white shoe polish. The kids had 3 rehearsals to assure a flawless filing in and out of the multi purpose room. We were even given 8 tickets for each student. Not to mention the graduation gowns. I just kept thinking, they are only leaving junior high school. I guess I have to look at it in terms of the fact that we do live next door to Stockton Unified...termed a "drop out factory", just a few years ago by some "scholars" at a University. I guess some will not make it to the next ceremony. I was quite amazed when the boys told me just how many of their peers were not able to compete in the ceremony because they had not met 8th grade graduation requirements. I would prefer that this ceremony be scaled down to save the climactic celebration for future graduations, like those in high school and college. My concern is that the over-the-top ceremony too closely resembles high school graduation and implies finality rather than a transition to further education. Leave it to me to want to call it "8th grade promotion". We are promoting them to high school. It's not really a milestone but more of a benchmark. Going through the ceremony makes us feel proud, for some they've made it halfway through. They aren't the class of 2008 but instead the class of 2012. I bought them a nice outfit and clapped as their names were called, took a few pictures but I want them to be sent the right message. This is nice and sweet but we have work to do. They are going on to high school.
By the way - this goes for those wonderful parents who also think it's such a wonderful thing to throw parties for 6 year olds graduating from Kindergarten :-). Congrats to my boys...now get to work. 4 more years of work to do....and 4 more years after that.