As I've mentioned, we've had two graduations in our family this year. 4M graduated from high school, and 6F graduated from 8th grade; she is finished with her time at Tiny Catholic School, and next fall will be a freshman (freshwoman?) at Large Urban Public High. I am nowhere near old enough for my Little Peanut to be in high school, but whatcha gonna do?
6F's graduation means that next fall, our family will have only two children attending TCS. For the last 16 years (since 3M started kindergarten), there have been at least three (and sometimes four) Jones kids in the school, but not anymore. I hope the staff doesn't get too disoriented by that. There are still two teachers there who have a live possibility of teaching all eight of our kids - the 5th grade teacher just finished with 7M, so she only has to hang on four more years to achieve the Jones Family 8-Fecta. And the middle school reading teacher is 6-for-6, with 7M coming her way in another year or two. They're both about the same age as Molly and me, so their chances look pretty good. . .
6F is already hitting the ground running at LUPHS - she's signed on for the marching band's Flag Corps, which has a couple of her older friends in it. Our experience has been that the transition from TCS to LUPHS works a whole lot better if the kid has a social context to plug into. And for various reasons (not least the predominance of kids from two-parent families), the band tends to be a pretty good one. So, good for our girl on that count. . .
6F has, for most of her life to this point, been a pretty, um, mediocre student, much more interested in the social aspects of school life than in actual academics. So, Molly and I have had in the back of our minds (without actually saying anything to 6F) that she might want to head into more of a 'vocational' track than an academic one. But suddenly, in her 8th-grade year, she has buckled down and made an A-B student of herself. Which, by the general rule of the TCS-LUPHS transition, would track her into the top tier of LUPHS students. So, we've tabled our 'vocational' thoughts, and we're eager to see how she handles 'the Next Level'. . .
4M had a pretty stellar high school career - four-year varsity football player, three-year starting quarterback (yeah, I have no idea how any kid of mine became a QB); Homecoming King, National Honor Society, etc, etc. He was a sprinter on the track team, and won himself the unofficial designation of 'The Fastest White Boy in OurTown' (again, I have no idea how this kid came from me, but Molly assures me that he did). (Actually, my coaches used to tell me that I was 'pretty fast for a fat guy', so maybe that, combined with Molly's 'lean gene', created a happy convergence.)
4M graduated as his class' Salutatorian, with a 3.987 GPA. They do things a bit differently these days, than when I was in school. The class had eight Valedictorians; anybody who graduates with a GPA above 4.0 is a Valedictorian. They add a point to grades for AP classes, so it's not uncommon (though still praiseworthy) for kids to graduate with GPAs above 4.0. Anyway 4M, with the highest GPA below 4.0, was the Salutatorian.
4M is an incredibly hard-working kid (which he gets from his mother, you can be sure); he is not brilliant, but he out-works kids who are brighter than he is. Combined with his open, out-going personality, he'll probably do well.
He won an engineering scholarship for two years at the community college, and two years at Mega-State U. It will be more demanding on an academic level than anything he's ever seen before. I don't really know if he's engineer material, or not; I think there's a big part of him that's more interested in teaching/coaching. And honestly, I'm fine with whatever he wants to do; I just hope he doesn't feel like he has to get an engineering degree to make me happy.
But I could hardly be more proud. 4M is just a really, really solid kid, and for a kid with the kind of 'popularity' that's been handed to him, he's amazingly well-grounded. More than one of his teachers have told us how he'd help the struggling kids in his classes, without any hint of condescension. And that, more than any grades, or honors, or awards, makes me proud of my son.
So, our family is in a time of transitions. It is starting to dawn on Molly and me that we've got 11 years left before 8M graduates high school, which means we're nearly three-quarters of the way through what will be 38 years of raising minor children. And it's just starting to creep into our consciousness that, when it's over, much as it will be a relief, we'll miss it. We were at an open house for the youngest of eleven children of friends of ours, and the wife was saying, "We've never been 'just us'; all we've ever done is raise kids together. So now we've got to figure out who we are." That hasn't quite been the case for Molly and me, but by the time all's said and done, being parents together will have been pretty much THE huge, defining feature of both our lives, and our marriage.
I just hope that we'll have been faithful to our parental calling, as best we could be. . .