1. Maddie was recognized at the 8th grade awards ceremony:
We were super proud of her! She got a SHARP award for her grades in all the classes possible. She also received the Presidential Scholar award for her grades and percentage on her MAP tests (or whatever the state tests are). She just received her report card today and received all A's. She was nervous about math so it was a big relief to her to see this.
It comes after a year of a lot of work on her part to get her headaches under control. The beginning of the school year, for some reason, was really hard for her to get a grasp on headaches. She spent the first 3 months of 2013 seeing a biofeedback specialist after every couple weeks. She really helped Maddie learn some techniques to relax and stay calm; most of her headaches were stress induced. Maddie is still learning to implement these techniques, but she's come a very long way and we are so proud of her efforts this year!
2. Jake was recognized at his school's awards program:
I was expecting to attend and see him get an award for Perfect Attendance. I forgot that he would also be recognized for safety patrol. What I didn't expect to see was all the math recognition - apparently he had a really banner year in this class! It was definitely a fun surprise. He also received a SHARP award and the Presidential Scholar award!
Side story: During the program, my parents were sitting in front of me. A few rows in front of them was a 5th grader who ended up getting sick. As in...threw-up-on-the-gym-floor sick. The teachers moved fast on that one getting him out and also covering up the stuff. The principal called in the janitor.
As previously reported on this blog - mom does NOT handle throw-up or blood. She did pretty good once the teachers covered everything up with rags. Then the janitor arrived and uncovered everything and I guess the smell was a little much. Mom turned her head to the side pretty fast and at one point buried her nose in my dad's shoulder. The picture above? I can see her concentrating on the far wall praying the clean-up goes fast as you can see the janitor in the back with his magic floor cleaner. I, and my friends beside me, had a little giggle over watching all of this.
Anyway- back to Jake. Jake had a lot of extra projects this year. I can honestly say that I am impressed with how he handled them. I was definitely the procrastinator growing up. As in 11th-hour/up-until-1am finishing projects, as my parents will attest to. Jake did an excellent job of keeping on a schedule so he wasn't in that boat. He's been so excited about his grades and when he does well on tests. He studies, has figured out some habits that work well for him, and asks us to ask him questions before tests.
As stated, we've had lots of these between both kids. Sometimes I wonder if they really know what these are supposed to be teaching them. Case in point:
This was one of Jake's projects for science. This was our conversation when I first saw it partly constructed:
Kerry: Wow. That looks like a lot of work.
Jake: Yeah - my group is going to finish it this weekend.
Kerry: So...what is it teaching you?
Jake: I don't know...[casual shoulder shrug]
Kerry: Don't you think you should know what the general idea behind the project is so you can learn it?
Jake: I guess. I think it's the same thing the solar oven was teaching us.
Kerry: What's that?
Jake: Nothing. It's just for fun.
This roller coaster took him and two other boys at least 6 hours to build over a holiday weekend, plus the hours they spent in class. They were all pretty proud of it. When he asked if I could pick him up to take it home, I asked about the other boys. He said they didn't want it. I wanted to point out that it was likely we were going to take it home and toss it, then he followed it up with, "But I really wanted you guys to see the finished product because it's so cool." Ugh.
Maddie had a few end of year projects to do as well, but it was mostly papers or stuff she worked on in school. She did finish this "book marketing project" that she was pretty enthused about. It really was neat so feel free to take a look at the link - it's two minutes long. Maybe she has a future in marketing.
Mike is SO happy that projects are over for another few months. I'm not sure why these annoy him so much because, frankly, he was traveling most weeks that the kids had these due. I think it's that they are monstrously huge and don't seem to be making a big learning impression except to stress us out a few days. The paper roller coaster may have put him over the top.
4. Final visits
Maddie and her friend visited their former 5th grade teacher who just retired after 38 years teaching. They walked from their school to his and picked up some DQ Dilly Bars to toast his retirement. This visit was squeezed in between a very tight schedule of projects and traveling out of town for her. It was really important to her though so I was glad she was able to squeeze it in.
5. The end
For Jake it was the end of elementary school, which of course means it was the end of elementary school for all of us. This comes with mixed emotions. I'm so happy to be done with elementary - as evidenced in my lack of volunteering the last few
Maddie is a freshman next year. [pause while I practice saying that out loud.] While she won't actually be attending high school the way Shakopee is set up, Mike and I have paused more than a few times in the last month or so to let a moment sink in when we realize that we have a very limited time left for her to be in our house. Again...exciting...but a little sad, and frankly, heart-stopping.