In Germany, when people make a big change, like moving to a new job or a new city, they often say they do it "with a laughing eye and a crying eye," meaning they're looking forward to the new thing coming but will miss what they're leaving behind.
Today is the last day of the school year here in Bavaria (I know, I know, so late!). For us, it's an even bigger "last"—it's the last day any of our kids will be in elementary school. *sniff*
I've written before about aspects of the educational system here in Germany I don't like (the sorting of kids after fourth grade). And I've written about parts I think are absolutely wonderful, like the rite of passage of starting first grade.
For the most part, we've been really happy with the elementary school. And now we're facing another milestone: the end of elementary school.
After fourth grade, kids are split into tracks: college prep, vocational and a middle route that could lead to either one. That means the kids--friends and neighbors--are more or less torn apart and sent to different schools. *sniff*
So on to "the end." There was a school assembly, to which parents are invited. The kids put on two plays, sang songs, danced. The fourth graders received little presents made by the first graders they'd mentored this year (another idea I love!).
Like every year on the last day, the tall, soft-spoken, less-than-one-year-until-retirement principal assigned the kids three important pieces of homework for summer break:
1. Play, every day!
2. Sleep in, every day!
3. See your friends, every day!
The kids cheered like it was a rock concert, and my heart swelled, knowing we'd never be there for that again.
And then the assembly ended with everyone waving and singing a goodbye/good luck song to the fourth graders.
Some kids cried.
Some parents cried (stop looking at me).
Some teachers cried.
If that's not a sign of the wonderful community in our elementary school, I don't know what is.
I'm sure next year will be great, but I know from experience that things in the upper schools are a bit different. The student bodies are bigger and more anonymous; there's less involvement by the families.
But nothing can take the mostly lovely elementary school memories from my kids or from me. I'm so glad I got the chance to be a part of this community.
All pictures taken by me.