Posted by: stiltsville | June 6, 2012

Class of 2012 Graduation Day

Four years ago, my daughter and I pulled up to the front doors at Coral Reef Senior High, she jumped out and said “see ya later, dad.” Today she’s wearing a cap and gown and picking up her diploma.

I’m an emotional wreck. I keep reminding her that I’m crying tears of joy.

I’ve been on the board of directors of the drama booster club at CRHS this year. We raise funds to make sure the students have food, transportation and support so they can travel to theater competition. So I’ve volunteered just about every Wednesday, selling snacks after school. I’ve accompanied the class to competition and I’ve watched as they’ve sat around my dining room table playing board games. I’ve seen all the work that goes into their stage productions; the costume-making, the set design and construction, the publicity, the practice, practice, practice…

Most importantly, I’ve been lucky enough to be able to watch the Class of 2012 grow up these past four years.

And grow they have. While Florida public education has been taking a beating in Tallahassee, the hard work of education is carried on across this state by dedicated teachers like those at Coral Reef. While Tallahassee focuses on high-stakes testing and “raising the bar,” teachers are trying to help turn our children into well-rounded adults.

As parents, we all want more than just good academic achievement for our children. The FCAT does not test for teamwork skills, leadership skills, creativity, trustworthiness or humor. But as we grow up, who is it that becomes a real friend? It’s the buddy you can rely on in a pinch. It’s the person who is fun to be around. We don’t pick our friends based on how well they do math.

And the teachers understand their job extends past test scores. In between test prep, those teachers are trying to help your child practice the skills that will make them a good person, not just a good test-taker.

Four years ago, my daughter’s class was timid and unsure. Today they know how to work as a team to tackle big projects. They know how to support one another when support is needed. They are creative, funny, smart and the kind of person you’d like to have as a next-door neighbor.

I think it was Mark Twain who said “To a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” In Tallahassee, all they have to work with is laws. So all our legislators can think to do is make more laws, raise more bars and demand more tests. Well I’d like to propose a law… If you’re going to write education law in Florida, you have to spend a year volunteering at your local public school first. It’s only then that you can see what goes on between the tests. If you’re going to write education law, you really need to know more about school than a fifth grader does.

Congratulations sweetheart, you’ve made us all so very proud.

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