Sunday, 20 December 2015

School's Out!

It's ridiculous how this year has flown, and I can't believe that we have now finished the school year and are on summer holidays! It's been a crazy year in so many ways, which probably made the year go even faster.

Jalen has had a huge 'leavers week' at school as he's finishing up high school (grade 10). I've had a lot of people comment on Instagram as people are confused as to why he's leaving high school when he's only 16.  In Tasmania 'High School' goes up until grade 10 (in the public system) and then year 11 and 12 are at a separate 'college'.  College in Australia and college in the USA/Canada are not the same.  It's just the same as high school in the USA.  99.9% of students go onto year 11 & 12 at a separate college in Tasmania. You can only finish school after grade 10 if you have an apprenticeship or full time work.   After college here we can then go onto 'Uni' or University, which many do.

On Thursday it was Jalen's leavers assembly and I felt fine going to it, but as I sat there on my own I just felt so sad that Aaron wasn't there with me.  It hit me that Jalen went through all of high school without his Dad, and how far he's come since the awful year he had in grade 7. If it wasn't hard enough going from Primary School to High School,  Aaron died just a couple of weeks before school went back.  Jay struggled so much that year and had so much to deal with. I questioned my decision to send him to school there so many times.  I almost pulled him out, and changed schools but the staff were so great, and did all they could to make school as supportive as they could for him, with everything that was going on.

I really can't believe the change in Jalen since grade 7.  I was looking at some old photos and found this one of his first day of high school.  He's so different in so many ways.  It breaks my heart looking back on old photos, knowing how much pain he was going through at the time.

We all still have hard days, but nothing like four years ago.  He has had the best year being on the Student Leadership Board and has developed so much confidence.  It was fun to see all the different things he got to do by being on the SLB including staff v students sports throughout the year, raising money for charities and camps.
As he was a part of  School Enhancement he took on the job of getting quotes for a memorial plaque to be placed at school. The school had wanted a plaque to remember students who have passed away, while at Queechy.  Jalen joked with me that he was the person to do that job, since we were experts on it.  We had a little laugh together about it (you either laugh or you cry) and talked about the different places he could ring.

I then remembered that a friend had told me that her Step Dad had a business and had offered to help with making Aaron and Noah's plaques.  We had already decided to go with their plaques with the pictures on them, but I told Jay we should get a quote from them as well. We did that and were so surprised at their generosity as they very generously donated a memorial plaque to the school.

Thank you to Bennett and Kingston in Claremont for their amazing generosity.

As well as presenting the memorial awards at schools, there have been lots of other things going on at school. Jalen was also presented with an award at his school's presentation night for being on the Student Leadership Board this year.
Harri was obviously very excited about it!
Work has been very busy for me, as we finish up things for the year.  It was exciting to be able to have our EAL (English as an Additional Language) students participate in Bicycle Education at school.  I saw an email come through all about it, and thought how great it would be for our kids, as a lot of them have a lot to learn about being safe on the roads.  Twenty five of our older EAL students took part in it for a whole day, and they had the best day. The next day they kept asking me 'bikes today!?' as they were hoping they could do it again.

Our local newspaper came and took some photos and interviewed me and the other EAL teacher working that day, and ran a story in the paper - you can read it online here.  How beautiful are these girls :) I love my students so much, and would love to take them all home with me. I kept telling the girls they were famous because they were in the newspaper, and the boys weren't impressed as they wished they were in the paper.
Even though most of our EAL students are Muslim, their families are happy for them to learn about Christmas and participate in Christmas activities.  It's been fun watching them write Christmas cards to their friends, and I have also got some lovely cards from some of them.  These words made me smile. 
This week I have been going on some of the end of year picnics with another EAL teacher, to support out students.  It was fun to to go the beach with the grade 3 and 4 students, especially as some of them had never been to the beach before.
Some of the EAL girls were keen to take part in the sandcastle competition as they had never made a sandcastle before.  I decided to help them and gave them some suggestions of what they could make....a princess castle, a turtle, a mermaid...but they decided they wanted to make a Christmas tree :)

Thursday was the last day of school for students this year.  I went along to Jalen's leaver's assembly and felt okay before I got there, but when I sat down on my own and kept thinking about how Aaron should've been there and had missed the whole four years of Jay being in high school I felt very teary.  The assembly was fantastic and showed a slideshow of photos of all the grade 10s when they were little, and then in grade 7 and grade 10.  There were some amazing performances and also a video of activities that happened over 'leaver's week' including footage from the leaver's dinner.   I had to laugh when I spotted Jalen trying to break dance.  Such a shy boy! ;)

Each tutor group was called up onto the stage together.

They all then filed out at the end as the rest of the school and teachers and parents stood and applauded them.
A lot of the students were very emotional and it made me teary also. It didn't help that I was thinking about how Aaron should've been there.  I love seeing Jalen with his friends and am glad that he's going to the same college as a lot of them next year.

'Squad' group hug!

Teachers even got hugs :)
Mr Lee was the teacher who was over the Student Leadership Board this year and is one of Jay's favourite teachers.  
 We had to make sure we got a photo in front of 'the big red Q' before he left school for the last time. 
It's weird to think he no longer has to wear a school uniform.
Harri and Kobe came home after school on Thursday very happy to be on holidays, but Kobe was also very emotional. His lip started quivering and he said he was going to miss his two teachers.  One of his teachers sent me a text later that night to tell me that he made a point of going up to her after school finished to wish her a happy Christmas and to thank her for being his teacher.  That made me so proud of him, as I still feel like he's only little but he thought about going up to her.  I told him I was very proud, and his lip started quivering again and I could tell how much he was going to miss her. I know he will be fine once school goes back, as he's also excited about his new teachers. 

I loved reading the boy's journals that they brought home. Some of the things they wrote cracked me up. This was Kobe's entry after we went to the Mother of the Year awards in Sydney.   Obviously the most important thing to him was that he saw the Prime Minster and had a sausage roll and macaroon at Kirribilli House! :)
It is so nice to now have 6 weeks off before school next year.  It's the first summer holidays since Aaron passed away that I've known that I have work next year.  I now have permanent hours, so it's such a relief to know that I don't have to stress about it during the holidays.  My permanent hours are less than what I've been working for the past 18 months, but hopefully I'll be able to pick up additional hours when school goes back. For now I'm not going to stress about it, and am just going to try to enjoy our holidays. I have dreaded holidays so much since Aaron passed away as the days can be long, but I don't dread them as much anymore, especially now that I know that I have work to go back to when holidays are over.

The weather has really heated up, and it's so nice to not have a routine and to be able to do lots or nothing. We are looking forward to late nights, sleep ins, not making lunches every morning, not having to plan for work, having no routine and lots of swims.  

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