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Appreciation for Graduation and Our Public Schools

Hands throwing graduation caps with the caption, "Congratulations Class of 2024"

I don’t know about you, but this has been an incredible school year. One of my kids began high school this year while the other just graduated last week. 

Like so many parents, I cannot believe that 13 years have passed so quickly for my high school graduate. I remember him fondly as a sweet 35-pound kindergartner holding my hand; even though he is now almost six feet tall and ready to fly off to a college far from Virginia. 

Elementary students running across the Woodson football field during Feeder Night

Just this week, my son’s third grade teacher, Mrs. K, mailed him a letter that he wrote to his future self along with a class photo of him as an 8 year old. It tugged at my heart to see the same determination in his eyes as the shortest boy in the class that he has now as a long-legged teenager who can drive. 

Ms. K described his letter as filled with “the hopes and dreams of a 9 year old you.” His hopes and dreams were pretty simple, filled with baseball, soccer, and dive team–such a contrast to his actual achievements in secondary school and scouts. As any parent, I am proud of his successes and a little fearful about what the future will bring, but I have seen a strong-minded, smart boy who is ready for his next steps, which are almost as important as his first.

Although my family has been under strain due to things outside of our control, my kids have received amazing educations, participated in terrific opportunities, and been supported and educated by deeply caring and knowledgeable teachers. The teacher’s letter reminded me of all of the teachers who supported our kids’ journeys in and out of school. They spent time making interesting lessons, preventing in-class bullying, and offering solace when times were rough. I could speak for hours about his incredible teachers, but I won’t bore you with

“I Lived” by OneRepublic was sung by the Woodson High School Chorus at graduation last week. Never were there more appropriate and beautiful words for the future of our FCPS graduates:

Hope when you take that jump, you don't fear the fall

Hope when the water rises, you built a wall

Hope when the crowd screams out, it's screaming your name

Hope if everybody runs, you choose to stay

Hope that you fall in love and it hurts so bad, hey

The only way you can know, you give it all you have

And I hope that you don't suffer, but take the pain

Hope when the moment comes, you'll say

I, I did it all

I, I did it all

I owned every second that this world could give

I saw so many places, the things that I did

Yeah, with every broken bone

I swear I lived

2024 Graduating class of Woodson High School

A final aside: Teachers and school staff make or break a student’s experience. We need to pay them accordingly and treat them with respect for their education, experience, and intentions. That is not to say that everyone is perfect and that parents shouldn’t question teachers, but those parents who go out of their way to make teachers miserable or use them as political punching bags are doing harm to the education of all of our kids by encouraging good teachers and staff to leave the profession for greener pastures (a.k.a., more money and security, and less grief).

As your kids graduate elementary, middle, and high school, take a moment to think about those who made a difference. Reach out to them to say thank you. That could be the difference between a future student having that same supportive teacher.

Teacher sitting in a circle with children clapping


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