Today was 5th grade graduation, done as everything in our school with an almost nonexistent PTA on a shoe string. One of the teachers raids her magnolia tree for greenery, PTA buys a cake and the last of the ice cream is transformed into punch.
The girls get all dressed up. We see Confirmation dresses, dresses from Quinceras past, and dress from Big Lots (the more the frills the better). Some coming looking like the little girls they are and some, well some quite frankly look like little tarts. The Brittany Spears school of fashion mis-design is not very flattering. Most of the boys are reluctantly stuffed into white shirts and pressed pants, a few are turned out in their best Sunday suits.
A bit more wide awake than at the SleepOver
The saddest children are the ones where nobody at home bothered to make a fuss over them. One little girl showed up in her everyday sweats with unwashed hair, a boy in a grimy once white t-shirt 4 sizes to big, another in his usual baggy shorts and t-shirt.
We see the same wide variety of dress in the parents - everything from tight stretch pants, oversize t-shirts and flip flops to Sunday best to adult tart. The ones who do attend are all so proud - the video cameras roll (almost every Hispanic family seems to have one), they come bearing bouquets of flowers and festive balloons.
The tattoos alone are worth the price of admission. One father was covered in them, most gang related. He was a big guy - easily over 300 pounds, wearing Baggy shorts, chains from his belt loops and Doc Martins. Not someone I would want to encounter in a dark alley. He was holding the hand of his daughter, a brown eyed, black haired little doll, dressed all in ruffles and fluffles. And he was beaming.
We tell the kids that they can graduated middle school, high school and go on to college. But deep in our hearts we know otherwise. The Houston Indpendent School District only graduates 1/4 of the minority children who enter high school as freshman. Our district success rates aren't much better. I've been at my school for 14 years and I'm already encountering the children of children I have taught.
Do I have to pose?
And that's why for some of our kids, it is not only their first graduation, it is