To the Elementary Class of 2010

River Dad


As you prepare to close the book on what has undoubtedly become one of the most vividly enthralling chapters in your lives, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate you all on a job well done.


In the past year you have grown in ways you would never have imagined, and have made life-long friends whom you shall never forget. The experiences you’ve gone through in the past 180 federally-mandated days will shape your future for years to come. This has been a magical year, and I want each and every one of you to pause and reflect upon the life lessons you’ve learned before moving on to the great adventure that awaits you next Fall.

Ahead of you lie challenges that will test you to your very core. Do not be afraid, your mind will expand with wisdom, and you will be introduced to concepts and ideas that will turn your worldview on its head. This is the joy of growing up.

I envy you. I envy the adventure you’re about to face. I envy the surprises in store. But make no mistake, if you thought the past year was difficult, that was nothing compared to what awaits you in September. And this is true no matter which elementary school (or middle school) you’re headed for in the Fall.

The time you’ve spent this past year at Tappan Hill, John Paulding, Dows Lane, Morse, Main Street School, or Washington Irving will remain with you always. The classmates, the teachers, the lunch ladies, the bus monitors — they will all become a permanent fixture in your mind. But they must now stand aside to make room for the new wave of adult supervision that waits to watch over and guide you. And while this may be the last time you walk these hallowed halls (or in the case of John Paulding, the hallowed hall), rest assured that every instance of lining up behind the line leader or scrambling to hide your Silly Bandz from your teacher will be forever etched in your memory.

This is a time to celebrate. There will be speeches, there will be tears, there will be songs. You will more than likely sing at least one song that was previously recorded by Raffi (Mr. Golden Sun, for example). Allow your parents to enjoy each and every one of these school-sponsored events commemorating your advancement to its fullest. We live for this. I, myself, recently enjoyed three separate officially-sanctioned celebrations honoring my daughter’s completion of the 1st Grade, in a span of two days.

Do not think of this graduation as an ending. Rather, think of it as a middle, or in some cases, really pretty much a beginning. Counting Kindergarten, you are another 1/13th of the way closer towards the end of your initial schooling. This is reason enough to celebrate. You should feel fortunate to be the recipient of all this lavish attention; some kids go years without a single moving-up ceremony simply because they attend a K-6. Can you imagine?

I know you have many questions. I know you wonder what the future will hold, aside from more homework and new Kooky Pens. I know you worry that your new school building will be different. It will. There will be more rooms, more kids, more stairs. Lockers! Some of you will have to leave your classroom to go to the potty for the first time. Others will discover Miley Cyrus. Think of it as one more challenge to overcome. This is a special time in your life, when anything is possible. Enjoy it while you can.

And don’t even get me started on high school.

For now, revel in the purity of your accomplishment. Passing the 3rd grade, or the 5th, or the 1st, or wherever you find yourself, is something that should be treasured, noted, and printed out in some sort of double-sided program your parents can stick in a scrapbook.

Congratulations, Classes of 2010. The future is an open book.

Isn’t that a Taylor Swift song?

River Dad

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About the Author: David Neilsen