Thursday, June 1, 2017

Micah's Kindergarten Reading Counts Ceremony

Kindergarten brought many things into Micah's life but most of all, it gave him a love of reading.  He didn't excel at handwriting or anything artistic but he learned to read and took off!  The goal to reach trophy in Kindergarten was 75 points.  He got 112 points.  He didn't even test for about three weeks toward the end of the program.  We haven't decided how invested we are going to let him be in this program.  We've seen the good and the bad side of Reading Counts with Jonah so involved.  But, for this year, we let him do it and he was so thrilled to receive a trophy.  
Jonah's eyes are closed in this photo but I couldn't leave out Micah's inspiration for being a good reader!


The fun part of reaching trophy level was being there with his buddies.  There were 10 Kindergarten kids total who reached at least 75 points and 6 of those were from Micah's class.  
















His face...

Braeden is a 3rd grader who set a school record this year for the most points EVER and he happened to be Micah's reading buddy this year.  We all love Braeden so it was special for Micah that he was there.  



Preschool buddies and now Kindergarten buddies.  Let's see if they end up together in First Grade.  

Bless...these crazy boys were just babies and now they are getting awards for reading.  

And, with their big brothers who are also BIG readers!!!  (And, they are all crazy as you will notice in the progression of photos!)





It was a fun night getting to celebrate Micah's success.  He has sat through so many award programs for Jonah so it is fun to have him be the star for once.  And, let me tell ya...he soaked it all in!

Jonah's 5th Grade Awards Day

Jonah graduated from 5th grade in May.  He started Freedom Elementary as this timid 5 year old and left there six years later with huge amounts of confidence.  It was a big day for him so we started the morning with a few gifts.  We had a couple of things for him and Jimmy and Cathy had one really huge surprise for him.




We got him his first non-kids Bible but filled it with highlighted verses of scripture from important people in his life.  It was fun to see him flip through and see the highlights and names of people who have invested in his life.


His big gift came from Jimmy & Cathy.  Jimmy has wanted him to have a phone for a crazy long time.  I've said no over and over.  But, in talking to other middle school parents who have blazed the trail ahead of me, I realized it was time to make that purchase.  I was going to wait to give it to him until right before school started but a wise mom of two older kids said she gave hers for 5th grade graduation so they had the summer to use them and learn proper phone etiquette.  Let me just tell you, that has been a job.  It's hard teaching a 10 year old that a phone isn't for ignoring everyone and everything around you.  Lots of lessons in this house over the last three months.
He had no idea this was coming so he was truly shocked!










Jimmy sent it to me and I put the Dallas Cowboys case on it before I wrapped it for them.
Before leaving for the morning, I snapped a photo of the little gift we ordered for each of Jonah's previous teachers at Freedom.  We planned to visit each of them after graduation to deliver these cookies and a thank you note from us to them for their investment in Jonah's life and education.
Let me pause right here to say, if you have a kid going into the 5th grade a Freedom, be prepared for a two hour program.  I felt so bad for the parents having to leave because they only asked off work for an hour.  It was way longer than I expected it to be.  It wasn't a problem for us because Dan was off of work but it's just good information to have if you are heading there next year.
















There was this really hilarious moment where the music messed up but the kids didn't know it and they kept singing but they were singing different than the music that was playing.  The audience was roaring with laughter.  The kids got tickled.  It was so funny!  That is why you see such huge smiles and grins from the kids.




We went into the ceremony knowing Jonah had a really good year but had no idea just how much he would rack up that day.  He definitely made his mark at Freedom Elementary.






One of the big awards given were the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Education.  I think that is what this group photo was for.  (This is what happens when all the certificates are given at the end.  I'm not sure what picture goes with what award!)


For the sake of time, they didn't call the kids up to the stage for every single award.  Instead, they had them stand and face the audience for some of them.  Jonah loved doing this.  Except, just the opposite of that.  It was so embarrassing for him to be so close to the audience and facing them.
Since we somehow ended up sitting right behind him, we had a great view for photos.  (And I could tell him to smile for the pictures.  HA!)


Jonah and 5 of his friends received a Media/Technology award.  These kids have moved through Freedom together.  3 of them were even in preschool together.  So, there is a lot of history between them.






Freedom reinstated their National Jr. Honor Society this year after some time without having one.  The five officers received a medal.  
















Jonah was one of 5 kids who read all 15 Sunshine State Readers this year.  He also was the first kid to finish all 15 three years in a row.  He was on the edge of his seat waiting on that award because he knew it was coming.  












He was one of 4 kids who reached the Reading Counts goal in 5th grade.  By the time 5th grade hits (4th grade, actually) most kids are D.O.N.E. with entire idea of reading and testing.  That is evidenced by only 4 kids reaching this goal in 5th grade and 9 in 4th grade but hundreds in 3rd grade.  


The next award was probably the most meaningful to Jonah.  He didn't even know it existed and to be chosen was a obviously a complete surprise.  He received the Bob Whitaker Award for Reading.  Our media center is named after Bob Whitaker.  He was the Director of our Media Center for many years but retired when Jonah was in 2nd or 3rd grade.  As they were describing the award, I could think of three kids in his class who deserved it.  I was honestly shocked when they called Jonah's name.  For the first time in school history, two people shared the award.  Mrs. Ross said it was a difficult choice choosing between Jonah and Noah so she awarded it to both of them.  








They received trophies, a gift card and their name on a plaque in the Media Center.  While Jonah was up there, they said, "just so he doesn't have to sit down, we have more awards for Jonah that we will give him while he is here."


He received the award for the most Reading Counts points in 5th grade.  He also received the award for reading the most words in the entire school.  His goal was 5 million for 5th grade.  He read 7 million.  (and burned himself out on reading in the process!  But, that's a story for a different day!)













When all was said and done, he had quite an armload of awards.  His friends were so sweet to him as he came back to his seat each time.  


After all the awards were given, the slideshow and presentation of each class began.
When Mrs. Willard hugged Jonah, I was so teary.  What an incredible year he had with this amazing teacher.  This was the least involved year I've had with Jonah.  I spent less than two hours in his classroom all year. I knew this teacher less than any other teacher he had at Freedom.  Yet, this was one of his best years.  It was a great transition to middle school for us.  His teacher was very accessible to us yet I wasn't there for every single thing.  It gave him some space and us a chance to see how he did on his own without me having every detail of his life figured out for him.  (Spoiler:  It wasn't perfect.  Mrs. Willard did a lot of hand holding and encouragement as we braved these waters!)












The kids processed out and we headed to their classrooms for cake and a little celebration.  (Or a cryfest!)
Mrs. Nancy was his first constant when we moved here 8 years ago.  She hugged him (and me) as we walked into that preschool classroom for the first time with a little 3 year old who was scared out of his mind.  She's been at everything since.  LOVE HER!!






























After taking pictures (unwillingly, I might add!) with many of his friends, we took a picture with our 5th grade graduate.  We were so proud of him!








We gave our last hug to Mrs. Willard then headed out to say goodbye to all of Jonah's former teachers.  (Mrs. Willard was a little weepy herself!)


We ordered flower cookies from Eversouth Bakes that said "Thanks A Bunch" and wrote a card to each teacher then delivered them with a thank you and a hug from Jonah.

We stared with Mrs. Hoover.  She was his first grade teacher.  She gave him an intense love of science and taught him to speak up for himself.  She celebrated his first year of reading over 1 million words.  Her classroom was calm and her demeanor was the same.  A couple of weeks into Jonah's 1st grade year, I had major surgery.  I was in bed for 12 weeks.  I was heartbroken to miss so much of first grade life with him.  This amazing lady would call me and talk to me about things with Jonah that I was missing.   She was an amazing first grade teacher.  We would be so excited for her to be back in the classroom so she could teach Micah.  
We left there and went to see Mrs. Leonard.  She made him explain every medal and award he got.  Then she hugged him in front of her whole class and used him as an example of what they could achieve when they work hard.  She treated Jonah like one of her own kids from the very beginning.  She taught him to write in cursive.  She gave him a confidence about himself that I had never seen.  She helped him believe that he could do anything.  She held to him a high standard and he kept rising to the challenge.  Sometimes I think that was only to honor her but in the end, it gave him great courage and confidence.  Third grade was probably the year we saw the most gains- both in and out of the classroom.


We stopped in to visit Mrs. Newman next.  She was so grateful to be honored with a gift and visit.  She is very big on special moments and respect.  She taught Jonah a lot about those things.  She helped reinforce what we had already been teaching him about looking people in the eye and communicating with purpose.  She taught him test taking strategies that he will (should) use the rest of his educational career.  She challenged Jonah is many areas of his life and he is stronger because of his year with her.  






As we were walking to find Mrs. Myers, we ran into this cute Kindergarten kid who was headed to lunch.
Then we ran into his buddy and I couldn't miss an opportunity to take picture of them wearing their Kindergarten shirts for the last time on their last day of Kindergarten!  (Wait..weren't they JUST babies???)
We walked towards Mrs. Evans' room and walked into her and Mrs. Leonard.  We stopped to give her a gift and card and she and Leonard doted on Jonah and thoroughly embarrassed him.  They fed off of each other and it was hilarious.


Mrs. Evans opened Jonah's eyes to fun of all subjects.  She made him realize being silly isn't a bad thing.  She taught him to like writing.  She made him realize that writing was much more than what you hand does on a sheet of paper and that it is okay to not enjoy the physical act of handwriting but to love expressing yourself on paper.  She danced on the tables, played KidsBop in the classroom, used technology an insane amount and was so creative in everything in that classroom.  4th grade was a joy because of her.


Then we all tried to decide which medal he earned because of which teacher's influence.  It was funny and he was so tickled.  (as you can see on his face!)


Jonah was SO ready to get back to his class to celebrate with his friends but we wanted a few pictures.  He obliged us but didn't love it.  










This kid seriously racked up.  But, I need to say how hard he worked.  This did not come easy for him.  He gave up a lot of playing outside with friends, watching TV, video games and fun to achieve this.  






We got back to Mrs. Willard's room to give her the cookies.  She cried again.  You should know that she isn't super emotional but this class meant so much to her.  Trust me, she meant so much to us.  5th grade with her was a gift.  She was the first teacher I didn't know much about before we got to her class.  She was amazing.  I can't even explain to you all the ways she helped Jonah.  She didn't baby him.  She didn't treat him like he was anything special.  She didn't rest on his accolades from the past.  She made him earn it.  She made him work for it.  She encouraged him along the way and went above and beyond.  We went on a cruise the week before Spring Break and that happened to be the end of the grading period.  She spent 5 hours with him after school the day we got back to catch him up so he wouldn't spend his Spring Break studying.  My word.  We loved our year with Mrs. Willard.  We wanted her to move right on up to Middle School with us.  We were so sad to say goodbye to her.  



Mrs. Myers text me to tell me where she was because we missed her when we went to her classroom. She was Jonah's Kindergarten teacher and Micah's current Kindergarten teacher.  She taught him to read.  Reading became his passion.  We are forever grateful to her for lighting that fire in his little life.  She made his first year of school so fun.  He cried his eyes out the last day of his Kindergarten year.  
On our way back to the classroom, we took a final picture with Jonah's principal, Mr. Leader.  He was new to Freedom this year and took a special interest in Jonah.  He encouraged Jonah's love of computers and technology.  He encouraged Jonah as he took up running and cheered him on as he crossed the finish line at the 5k.  He was another person at Freedom who encouraged our boy and we are so grateful.  

It's hard to believe that Jonah's days at Freedom are done.  He spent 6 great years there. He was loved and loved back.  He made great friends.  He had some of the best teachers ever.  He had huge accomplishments and lots of life lessons.  I remember the day he started school there.  I remember thinking he was such a baby and too little to go into the real world.  But, I left him there and he grew up.  He grew into a great kid.  I'm glad I got to have a front row seat to watch.  

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