This is not an original title. It’s not even a clever title. But it refers to a very special day in the school year. That is of course, the last day of the summer term. Out of my front window, I can see the hordes of parents and children following their daily path to the local primary school. The mood is generally upbeat. Even in the darkest depths of an overly mild damp grey British winter, children chat happily or zoom about on their silver steel scooters. It’s a cheering sight.
Yet the last day is even more so. The gently ambling, if disorderly line is bedecked with gifts. They are carried proudly by the children smiling widely at the myriad of thoughts racing through their eager minds. “Today I am going to make my teacher smile. Today he or she will be nice to us. We’re going to do a lot of playing today. All the teachers will be smiling. We can talk to them about the things that we like and what we’re going to do in the really long holiday. Then we have the holiday.” Parents secretly quake. They too have a myriad of thoughts. “Child care, summer clubs, boredom, fighting, rainy days, money, travel, airports, early starts and just how am I going to get through the next six weeks?”
These are generalisations however. But the day is special. Each one of my year six classes, all nineteen of them, have helped make the last day quite precious. There were gifts. There were cards and letters. But most precious of all were the kind words. In the build up to that very day, in amongst the sports days and performances, I would make sure that I asked every child about their hopes for the coming years. It was never a great formal interview. It would be very light hearted. the moment could have been instantly forgotten. But for me, it was just a little nudge of encouragement. I was letting them know that I was releasing them into the wild with my good wishes.
On the last day, I always made the effort to go to the gate with the class. It wasn’t always possible. The combination of MS, heat and fatigue sometimes beat me. It was an opportunity to chat to parents about thew coming months. It was a good moment. I could cite many moments of this final farewell but I would be here for ages.
Instead, I will recall one little example. There was a girl in the parallel class who had gone through the entirety of her junior school life friendless and lifeless. She was not a hard worker. In fact, it was widely known that she did not relish coming to school. In addition, her family had done little to endear themselves to the staff or other parents they reluctantly interacted with.
She came to choir. Nobody knew why. She never spoke to anyone, she just sang. Sometimes she would just listen. There was a number of theories as to why she came. She was avoiding the lunchtime playground, she felt safer with a staff member around or even that she hated the cold weather.
Well on her last day, she came from next door to bring me a present and a card. Inside the card her mother had wrote a warm message of thanks for helping her daughter get some enjoyment out of her final two years at the school. She mentioned her child’s love of music and how my enthusiasm for the choir had given her some inspiration. It was touching. I felt honoured. Thank-you for reading.