“Mr. Simpson, do you have any popsicle sticks?”
“Uh, yeah, you know I have a million popsicle sticks in the drawer over there, every size and color. Knock yourself out.”
A few days later, after being sidetracked by my colleagues for nearly an hour, I walked into my classroom to find it full of current and former students, teachers, and even a few parents. It was a going-away party. For me.
I’d been dreading this possibility for weeks. People were acting strange. I’d been trying to organize, move and grade final exams, and kids wanted to discuss virtues of various cake flavors with me. “We’re doing something for the French Club seniors,” they said.
I love these students. I’ve always let them hold the reins in French Club, and they always pull through. Their sense of camaraderie and solidarity has always amazed me. It fills my heart with so much joy, because I know that these students will approach their adult lives with the same fervor.
The French Program at GCHS has been incredible. It means a lot to me to know that the students feel the same way. I could write a novel about all the memories that I’ll take with me. I’m not saying goodbye to these students and colleagues, though. As I like to say, we don’t have to follow the same path to share the same journey.
“¡Discurso!” yelled the Spanish teacher. I could’ve never held it together long enough to give a speech. I barely made it through our spring festival, watching a very special group of seniors and underclassmen bring home the trophy one last time.
And in case you’re wondering about those popsicle sticks — the students took them all over the school and had teachers and classmates write memories on them. They put their names on the other side and put them all in a jar, just like I do in class to call on students.
Lastly, I want to say thanks to a very special young man who not only put all this together but also made me a promise that will mean a lot to me and many other people. You know who you are, and I’m holding you to it.