When the final bell rang on my last day of fifth grade, I came home and sat on the front stoop. I remember this clearly, in a way I don’t remember the last days of any other grade save 12th: it was sunny, and I was holding in my hand a pencil I’d bought in the cafeteria that day, one of those striped ones with the NFL team name down the side. In my memory it’s the St. Louis Cardinals one (the Cardinals moved to Arizona the next year).
I remember a very satisfying sense of accomplishment. I had completed a major chapter in my life, and I was aware that it was the longest one; neither middle school nor high school would take me six years! Everything was possible. Summer and the rest of my life held incalculable possibility, and I was ready for all of it.
Daughter finishes fifth grade today, and I hope she feels something like that, even though she continues at the same school for 6th-8th grade. By the end of the next year of school, most of my boundless 11 year-old optimism had buckled beneath the weight of adolescence and an imposing junior high hierarchy. I expect Daughter may experience something similar in the next year or two, and so I hope the closing of this year can be all delight.