1,400 minutes... How do you measure a year?

By Victoria Jasztal on June 2, 2010

Yesterday was the day of our end-of-the-year fourth grade awards ceremony, and I was thinking to myself, How do you measure a year? There are challenges we all face, whether they are academic challenges or we must handle difficult situations with our students. Then of course, there are times where we encounter great joy. There are times where we do not feel as if we have planned enough, while on the other hand, there are times in which we plan too much. Then obviously, of course, there are the field trips, and this year, we had our fair share of them, from our local one to the environmental center in Weeki Wachee to the "major ones" such as the Renaissance Festival, Gainesville, and St. Augustine.

Though I have not officially said "Goodbye" to my students as fourth graders, it was still difficult as they watched the 45-minute slideshow, I presented the classroom awards, and I went on stage to present the academic achievement awards such as Superintendent's List (Never below an A for the year), Principal's List ("A" average in all subjects for the year, though B's can be on the report card), and Honor Roll (A's and B's for the year). I felt a phenomenal sense of pride for my students as I presented the eight Superintendent's List awards, the two for Principal's List, and another eight for Honor Roll. My students have achieved a lot, and they should feel a great sense of honor. Read on to hear more about how this special day progressed.


Young Author's Breakfast and Book Sharing Celebration: 9:00-10:30 a.m.

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The day began with three very dedicated parents preparing breakfast for the students.

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A few siblings came to join us from their classes for the breakfast. The pancakes, muffins and bacon were absolutely delicious!

Of course, some of my students then decided to share their book publishing projects. They were extremely proud of their accomplishments. They have come a very long way as authors this year!

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Book Buddies: 10:30-11:00 a.m.

The kindergarten book buddies came to receive "Congratulations on Making It to First Grade" cards. They saw their fourth grade buddies' published books as well and looked at the photos around the room together. Below, one of the Book Buddies, wearing red, glanced at our photos. (Check out the lights adorning the board, too!)

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Lunch, Slideshow, Classroom Awards, and Letter Writing
: 11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.

Besides presenting the classroom awards, handing students personal letters is always a very special component of the end-of-the-year ceremony.Today, I had students write me back, and the parents who came added their own special component to their letters as well. If you have not had your students write letters at the end of the year, it is something you can keep for many years to come. Guy Rice Doud, National Teacher of the Year in 1986, remembered in the documentary Molder of Dreams that his fifth-grade teacher had them write letters to him. I informed my students that I keep their letters in a binder that I can pull out years later when they make a tremendous accomplishment (graduating high school, college, or accomplishing something "above and beyond"). Here are a few photos of my students writing letters:

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Grade Level Awards Ceremony: 2:15-3:15 p.m.

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My students were patient to sit through six classes before being the last class to receive their awards this afternoon! After each class receives their awards, they always pose for a photograph on stage.

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Mrs. LaPlaca, our school's music teacher, presented awards to the students who are a part of the chorus.

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Two students receive awards from Mrs. Kirby, our school's History Fair coordinator and the very first teacher I taught next to in my first year of teaching, for participating in the 2009-2010 History Fair.

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Drained? I believe so. These young ladies waited for the bus at the end of the day, giggling over random private jokes and watching a few fifth graders from last year's class attack the pizza left over from lunch like vultures. My students certainly had a whirlwind of a day! (My student on the right was my class' Turn Around Student of the Year, by the way.)

Again, I congratulate my class! What do you do at the end of the year? Have you ever had your students write you letters? 

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