Dear CF Elementary School,
We're breaking up with you. It's not you - it's us.
The last 11 years have been unforgettable, but it is time for us to move on. You have been there for us since our son first entered your doors as a curious, excited 5 year old boy. Though we had a hard time letting go, Mrs.Wilcox helped him to feel comfortable and cared for right away in her classroom. Our daughters first walked through your doors as preschool students. Their inclusive preschool class was a glimpse of what was to come in their future classrooms: a place for every student to thrive and learn and to explore the world.
Now, at 6th grade graduation, we feel bittersweet pain as we watch our youngest daughter walk across the stage to be handed her graduation certificate. We know the final moment of our break-up is looming. It was inevitable, but somehow, it snuck up on us.
We can still be friends. We would hate to never see you again. From Principal Wiley to Principals Shea and Conklin, you have supported and included our kids and us. Thanks to your wonderful office staff, Angela and Cathy, for always making us feel welcome and loved, and for taking care of so many details for so many families.
CF Elementary, your teachers are dedicated and passionate. From Mrs.Wilcox, Dr.Preston, Ms. Vance, Mrs.Mattone and Mr.Silverstone in the early grades to Mrs.Robinson, Mrs.Donovan and Mr.Prather in the higher grades - you were always pushing our kids to think, create, be kind, be strong, and be proud. The 2 great kids you taught and counseled and loved are off and running; the third is now ready to do the same.
We honor your art teachers, your librarians, your P.E. teachers, your music and band teachers, your paraeducators, your cafeteria staff and your custodial staff. Without everyone working together, CF would not have the same joyful and safe vibe it has.
You have been our community for 11 years. You have loved, nurtured, and taught. You have been there for us. Your sturdy walls made our kids safe; your airy and light-filled classrooms provided them with the space they needed to learn and grow. We were so good together.
We never meant to hurt you. It's just time for us to move on. It breaks our heart to have to say good-bye to you.....Instead we will say "See you later". We have a feeling you aren't gone for good.
The day is here! Your graduation from high school. Every time I see you, you remind me and ask if I will be there, and I say, "Yes! Of course!" You also remind me of what I said 4 years ago: that I couldn't wait to be there to see you graduate, that you could count on my presence. Don't be embarrassed if you hear me yelling your name in the audience when you walk across the stage!
I remember well when you first arrived. It was March, and we had just gotten a huge snowstorm. You had never seen snow. You were living with a parent you had not grown up with. You were adjusting to a new school, new people, a new culture and language. It was a lot to handle for your 14 year old self, but you did it with grace and strength. Your father impressed me with his hands-on approach with his 7 kids. He wanted the best for you and came by school unannounced to check up on you. It was easy to tell him how great you were doing, and how hard you worked.
There were days you cried, and I cried with you. It was lonely for you, a very social girl with many friends back home. Classmates and teachers ignored you - not purposely to be mean, but because they did not know how to interact with someone who didn't speak a lot of English. But you made it through, and on the last day of school, I was sad to see you go, knowing at the same time that you would soar and reach places even you did not know you were reaching for.
When you first came, your career goal was to become a flight attendant. Now you want more. You want to study in the science/technology fields; you want to finish college and get graduate degrees. Nothing wrong with being a flight attendant - but your options were limited and now they are limitless.
I checked in on you often with my ELL colleagues at the high school. You did soar, once again becoming the friendly and social young woman you were used to being, involved in sports and clubs, and a role model for many. You were even exited from ELL in 3 years because you did so well so quickly. I felt pride and happiness for you.
This morning in the paper, I saw pictures of the Senior Prom. Your smiling face was prominent in many of them. Gorgeous, happy, and confident, you looked like a young lady going places. And I know you will go places. I am SO proud of you, for your family, and for your mom, who you left behind, for the purpose of getting a good education and having a better future for yourself.
Come back and visit! And I look forward to hearing about the next graduation, and the one after that too. I will be at those, too, if you ever decide you want me there. Wishing you a happy, healthy future, surrounded by family and friends, and with whatever makes you happy.