Friday, June 20, 2014

School's Out: A Non-Crochet Rant

A lot of things have been going on lately, I got back into testing patterns - successfully, I might add. I also created a Pascha Bear for Crafty Is Cool. She found a video (below) that she found endearing and decided to create a bear for orphans in Russia, here's the original blog post that I participated in.

Then among all crochet projects flying around our home, we also reached the end of the school year, Jacob completed 1st grade, Aurora completed 2nd grade! So happy for them, they've really learned a lot over the last year - despite Aurora's teacher being a complete idiot!

On top of the Littles completing their school years, my eldest son, Riley completed his last year of middle school, 8th grade for us. I was soo excited thinking this is great, he made it – maybe not with the most spectacular grades, but he made it. I will officially be the mother of a high school student this next fall. He also turns 15 in September, and we all know what that means.... impending driver's ed!

Riley was scheduled to have a “moving-up” type ceremony/gathering on the last day of school. Both Amazing Adam and I attended this same school when we were in middle school, so we thought that the event would be along the same lines; granted it’s been about 20 years since then, but still, something along the same lines, right?

First of all I’ve been dealing with panic and anxiety issues as much as I can lately; for which I’m currently NOT medicated for. I enter the school, thinking I’m going to be a basket case because my baby is “graduating” middle school. Well, I was a basket case, but not for the reason I thought. I was a basket case because this event was the biggest fiasco that I’ve ever attended! The seating was crap. I needed an easy in/easy out location – a lot of which was reserved for staff. (eff that!) Then due to the fact I selected an easy in/easy out location I didn’t deserve to watch the event at all as I was blocked by a metric ass-ton of people who were more deserving than i. Seriously people, who stands in front of EVERYONE and makes no effort to make sure people behind them can see? I couldn’t stop the crying from that point forward, I kept trying to keep it under control but I couldn’t. I began to realize that this was NOT like any other moving-up ceremony I’d ever attended.

At this point Amazing Adam wrapped his arms around me and stayed that way for the better part of the event. We sat that way through the principal’s speech – felt like I was in church, but in church, I can see what is going on!

The 1st student speaker.

A choir performance.

At this point they listed off ¾ of the 8th grade class that received awards

Another student speaker; which if you’re making a “commencement speech” please refrain from using street lingo. If I were that kid’s parents I’d have been incredibly embarrassed!

Then another ¼ of the previously awarded students were mentioned again for another award.

A 3rd student speaker.

A quartet performance.

Last but not least, a slide show. Anyone who’s not been part of the “popular” kids, sportos, princesses, whatever… would know that they have a slim chance of ever being caught on film, right? Well, folks my son is not a “popular” kid, I was unable to see him in the slide show due to being surrounded and that there was only 1 picture of him dissecting a salmon (totally cool).

At the end of this “event” I was so incredibly pissed that I could barely contain myself. I grabbed the Littles and headed out to my car as Amazing Adam told Riley where to find us when he was ready to leave.

To keep this story moving, I eventually got home after celebrating Riley’s achievement and the last day of school in general at IHOP… and wrote the middle school principal this e-mail:

I would like to thank you and your staff for ruining the entire ceremony for my family today.

My son was an 8th grader at CMS this year and was at the ceremony today. My experience during the ceremony was one of the worst events I've ever had the displeasure of attending.

Instead of having the opportunity to see my son having a moment of final recognition for his hard work and reaching another momentous milestone, I was given nothing. I had the unpleasurable benefit of being surrounded so thickly of people who felt it was completely acceptable to stand in front of everyone and block every bloody moment from our view. I had a continuous panic attack during the entire ceremony due to the fact I was surrounded, couldn't see anything that was going on and acceptable seating was reserved for staff. I did what I could from my easy in/easy out location, but your staff did nothing effective to make sure the event could be potentially enjoyed by all families.

Both my husband and I were students of CMS; we had the opportunity to walk and receive our certificates individually, thereby giving our parents a moment they could share with family members for ages to come. I HAVE NOTHING. The poor planning of this "ceremony" ruined this event forever and instead of something beautiful and rewarding, I am now dealing with anger, and the disbelief that this actually happened, that I actually have no memento of my son accomplishing middle school.

I realize that a lot of the photos in the slide show were of the "popular" kids, that's fine, that's the way it has always been. Then to NOT recognize the average students, the ones that also worked hard, but didn't attend last night's dance, who didn't participate in sports, or the group Olympics, is immeasurably offensive. It ROBBED each and every one of those families, who worked just as hard, of a moment of accomplishment that cannot be replaced. I can assure you I'm not the only irate parent that feels this way - I may be the only one to reach out to the staff about it.

I will reserve commenting about the speeches as it would be my personal opinion and detract from the point I'm trying to make; which is this: next time, just invite the families of the kids who got 20+ stickers, the families of the kids in the majority of the pictures, then we - the average family - won't feel as if we were insignificant or forgotten, we'll know it as a fact, but you wouldn't have wasted our time. Every single student that didn't get their name called received exactly zero praise or recognition from the school; so much for "once a warrior, always a warrior", more like, "well, if we called your name or got pictures of you, you're still a warrior."

I have two more children that will potentially attend CMS in the coming years; I hope that this "ceremony" will be modified to include EVERYONE, not just the more popular students or the overachievers.

The only saving grace of this entire fiasco is that my son enjoyed it. That's all I have. He saw a glimpse of himself in the slide show, that's all, just one small snippet, but to him it was fine, so I'm sure the students had a great time. Now, I hope that your staff takes a moment to realize the amount of brokenhearted families you have created buy allowing today's ceremony to commence the way it did.
Highly disappointed,

I did all I could to express myself in a way that could not be misunderstood. I felt better and honestly that’s all I really needed. I had hoped for some kind of response, and I did receive one the following week:

Hello Ms. X,

I am very sorry that you did not appreciate the moving up celebration that was held last Friday. It is not our intent, at all, to hold a “commencement” type of graduation ceremony. Philosophically, I believe that a graduation ceremony, in which every student walks across the stage and receives a certificate, should be reserved for high school graduation. The intent was to bring the students together to recap the year together, and to offer them our congratulations as a class for completing middle school. I am glad that your son did enjoy the experience, though.

Best Regards,
(withheld name for privacy)

My only thought was “Really? This is what I get?” Now, not only disappointed in the school but feeling as if my intelligence was being insulted as I received a pat on the head; I responded with:

It was not my desire to have pomp & circumstance type commencement; my feelings are that every single student deserved some kind of individual recognition. Call all the kids names for each "hall" that completed middle school; eliminate 2 student speakers, and 1 music bit and there would have been plenty of time to allow for a sense pride and completion for each and every single student that worked hard both years.

I would have been camera happy just to have my son stand up and have his name recognized - as I’m certain A LOT of other parents would have been too. All the families of average students got shafted, plain and simple. I would honestly be ashamed if I were responsible for that event and would offer a public apology.

However, I am only one parent. My original note will probably bring some chuckles to you and your staff. I don't care. I said my piece; I appreciate your response at least letting me know that it was received and read, thank you for your time.

When did the education system become so disappointing? Did my mom have to fight this hard against common sense among the staff members? I know for a fact there was some ruckus caused by my mom when I was in school – I still get to hear those stories, but what happened? 

Since when is it OK to overlook all of the hard work of the “average” student? Everyone whines and complains when someone gets offended, but heaven forbid we pat a student on the back for doing their best even if it doesn't compare to the overachievers. Don’t get me wrong, if your kid sucks and failed to meet standards then there are consequences to be had; my Riley just barely scraped by last year (he was quite lucky that they don’t “hold back” kids in middle school).

What do you think? What would you have done in my position? Let me know in the comments below, I'd love to hear from you!

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