End of School 2020 · 20 June 2020

I do not like the end of the school year. Especially this year.

The end of the school year is never any fun for me. Sure, the kids all chant, “No more pencils, no more books, no more teachers’ dirty looks.” And Alice Cooper’s song, School’s Out, plays on loudspeakers everywhere. But I find the end of the school year to be bittersweet. Often more bitter than sweet. Especially, this year.

To be sure, the 2019-2020 school year has been unique. Our local student body has had bad news and tragedy for over a year. And closing the doors for COVID-19 was certainly unexpected. Certainly disruptive to the learning process. But students are resilient. They are resourceful. They will survive. They will be better for the experiences. Even though they are pained going through them.

Even though our students and staff have gone through these tough times together, those same tough times are not why the end of the school year is bitter. Nor is knowing that we will all come through the other side of this a little wiser and stronger the reason that the end is sweet.

For me, the end of the school year is sweet because we can chalk up another successful year in the books. We can say that we did what we could to help the students become better citizens and more thoughtful learners. And if just a handful of students say that they have learned anything, we can say we were successful because we know many more did as well. I would say that even during this strange year, we had some of that sweet success. Maybe not quite as sweet as it has usually been, but students still learned and grew as learners and people and citizens. And we, their educators, can be proud of what we have accomplished alongside them this year.

The end of the school year also brings the bitter part of bittersweet to the front of my mind. I do not like saying goodbye. Especially to my seniors who I may or may not see again. And this year, I did not get to say goodbye with the traditional handshake and/or hug. Nor will I get to say my in-person goodbye to my other students, some who will be in my class next year and some who will not. Yes, I will still tell them to stop by and say hello when they walk by my classroom. Even though we do not know if any of us will be walking those hallways any time soon.

Which is, of course, one of the biggest reasons I am not liking the end of this school year.

Like I already said, I do not like saying goodbye. To my students. To my colleagues. But saying goodbye this year is worse than normal because we do not know when we will see each other in person again. We do not know what school will look like in the fall. We do not know when we can be in the same place together. We do not know when we can exchange handshakes and hugs. And that not knowing makes the end of this school year especially painful.

I called this piece End of School for a reason. No. I do not believe it is truly the end of school as we know it, but things will surely change. Things will be different in the fall. School will not be quite the same as it was before. But I will be. I will still love my students and my colleagues. I will still respect and value them all. And I will still do everything I can to help them along their journeys in life.

The end of the school year is always bittersweet. I applaud all that my students and colleagues have accomplished this year. And I am sad that I did not get to say many personal goodbyes.

Now you know why I do not like the end of school. Especially this year.

© 2020 Michael T. Miyoshi

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