Saying goodbye is never easy, especially when you spend four years creating an artistic family. My school does a series of Good-byes, which quite possibly makes it harder than just a simple graduation goodbye.
My school is known for amazing memorable events for all students, but our senior events are quite possibly the best! Our seniors begin their first day of senior year with a senior sunrise; they enjoy music, donuts, friends, and write their future aspirations on a paper, tie it to a balloon, and sent it off. They continue a year of classes, tests, events in the senior squad, senior retreat in the mountains, and we culminate the year with senior sunset. Hamburgers and hot dogs grilling, music playing, and memories revisited as our students sign their last yearbooks.
After the senior sunset on their final day of high school, the events continue. Senior Memories, one event that always brings me to tears, takes a glimpse into our students’ past, present, and future; including speeches from parents, students, teachers, and administration intertwined with performances from our talented students. This year my senior dancers performed Crossroads, a piece inspired by the crossroads we all face, including myself as I anticipate resigning from my dance program. The evening culminates with an amazing slide show of our seniors’ journey through life thus far….and saying goodbye.
The following night we move into the Senior Awards Ceremony. Each senior is called up on stage as a list of accomplishments is read including their choice of college for the following year. I am privileged with the official task of hooding our Silver Scholars and VAPA majors, a process that moves me to tears every time, because again, I am saying Good-bye.
And then there is Graduation. We dress in our finest and sit under trees in the heat for hours….and wait. The anticipation is dreadful. Our seniors enter the procession, walk across the stage, and leave… forever. They are gone. Although we hope they enjoyed their experience and learned from us along the way, we never really know. Are they better people, are they ready for society, will they face the world and conquer it, or will we see them in the news and be devastated???
We put our passion in the future…a future that cannot be prescribed. All we can do is hope that we have created strong individuals ready to face the real world. Do we have the next poet laureate in our midst, a possible president, the one who cures cancer?? We don’t know. We send our children out into an unjust world, questioning will they survive, do they need me, how can I help them! But they are on their own now.
As passionate educators, all of these questions and concerns flood our minds at graduation time! But all I can say is, we did our best. We loved unconditionally, we inspired greatly, we structured accordingly. It is all up to them now. To my educators who have to say goodbye to their babies of many years… love them, cherish them, and try not to cry!
Piquès & Pirouettès
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Typhani Harris is a dance educator and mentor teacher who has been on the boards of both the California Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance (CAHPERD) and California Dance Education Association (CDEA). Recently, she has made a cross-country move and is now an instructional coach in Brooklyn, New York. Having begun as a high school English teacher, it has been her mission to bring theory and research into the traditional dance class, and in 2009 she won the Music Center’s Bravo award for excellence in Arts Education. Typhani is currently on a mission to help teachers Stop Teaching and Start Reaching their students, check out the unTeacher Lab at stopteaching.org