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Posted: May 6, 2016

Remembering when grads were kindergarteners

Supt. Reedy was an elementary school principal during those first days of school for the Class of 2016.

The journey began nearly 13 years ago for most of the Class of 2016. As an elementary school principal at the time, I saw terror mixed with wonderment in the eyes of kindergarteners and parents alike on that first day of school.

I remember how tightly small hands gripped bigger ones, how tentative both were to let go. I recall tiny voices whispering names to amiable teachers and EAs who ushered these new students into vibrant, energetic classrooms. I can only imagine what thoughts were racing through those young minds: How scary this place was, and yet exciting; how promising, yet intimidating; how hopeful, yet worrisome.  

I’d peek into those classrooms later in the day – long after weepy parents had headed home or off to work – and was inspired by what I observed. I saw smiles, I heard laughter, I saw learning. Learning that would continue for more than a decade, culminating in graduation where weepy parents once again would tentatively let go.

For those of us in public education, graduation is the culmination of our work. It is what we desire for our students. Whether we are teachers or custodians, principals or nurses, cafeteria workers or counselors. No matter if we work at elementary, middle or high schools or at the Lincoln Complex or Central Office. Our success is based on our students’ success. Their achievement is ours. And the measure of that success is graduation.

Next week, we will celebrate that success as thousands of our students walk across the stage to pick up their high school diplomas. Not all of our students, however, will be there. Sadly, we lost some along the way for a variety of reasons. They may have moved or returned home to their native country; they may have dropped out to work and support their family; they may have succumbed to peer and societal pressures; they may have lost hope.

My desire as superintendent, our obligation as a district, is to help more and more of our students make it to the finish line. So, as we celebrate our graduates next week, let’s also keep in mind the children who are coming up behind them, who deserve the same opportunity, who are depending on us to help them earn that high school diploma that will open the door to more learning, opportunity, security and, yes, even happiness.

Congratulations to the Class of 2016 and to all of you who helped them achieve this goal. And that, my colleagues, means all of you.