Friday, June 1 was a memorable day in Maryland. While an unusual spate of tornadoes struck the metro area in the late afternoon, the morning brought whirlwinds of a much happier nature to McDonogh's Childs Memorial Terrace: the Lower School Closing Ceremony and promotions of the guests of honor, the fourth grade, to Middle School.
Graduates welcomed the occasional winds during their favorite part of the ceremony, the end, when they removed their blazers and tossed them high in the air. They only get to toss blazers once in their McDonogh careers. Judging by their faces, it's great fun, even when blazers get stuck on nearby tree limbs and have to be retrieved.
Of course they enjoyed the morning's other highlights: receiving their certificates of promotion from Headmaster Charlie Britton and his well wishes to the entire class, listening to Head of Lower School Noreen Lidston reveal their favorite memories and advice, watching the younger children sing the L.S. song "Be the Best of Whatever You Are."
And of course they liked receiving warm hugs and congratulatory handshakes from every L.S. teacher, including those who taught them and those who didn't.
Parents rushed to the terrace to capture images of all the morning's memorable moments, beginning when the 70 class members followed the L.S. drum corps down the hill in the traditional march to the terrace.
Then, members of each class and grade delivered banners for sharing, which were claimed later in the ceremony by other students rising to those grades.
Classmates shared laughs knowing glances when Mrs. Lidston read their L.S. memories:
When I was in kindergarten, we looked for dinosaur bones. I found so many bones! I loved that!
And some of their words of wisdom:
- I remember all the monthly stations in kindergarten. They were fun and everybody liked them. Once it was doctoring, then it was gardening. Whatever it was, we were interested.
- I remember seeing my mom’s face at Muffins for Mom. She glowed with happiness when she saw the muffins I made for her. I loved that face.
- In first grade, Miss Williams would try her hardest to get her class to believe there was a secret door in her closet.
- I remember once in first grade with Mrs. Irving when we were doing some activity with the hot glue gun and, by mistake, Mrs. Irving glued herself to the table! I forget how she got off, though.
- I will never forget when we went to the aquarium in first grade as a field trip and almost touched a bird in the rainforest.
- When I was in second grade, one day near the end of the year, Mrs. Robins took the class to this stream for the whole day. When we got there, Mrs. Robins let us swim, skip rocks, race, and many, many more. I was really sad when we had to leave because I didn’t want the day to end. I still remember today, as a fourth grader.
- I remember running the shoeshine stand (in third grade) and shining my dad’s shoes. I liked it because my dad showed up and surprised me!
- I played in the Spirit Parade for Drum Corps. I was nervous at first and scared to mess up, but after we began, I felt great!
- I remember when I performed in Multicultural Night for the first time. Seeing my mom and dad’s faces in the audience, cheering me on, made me feel so safe and as if nothing could go wrong now. I won’t forget those faces.
- My best memory was of the sailing trip. It was an awesome experience. When we got there, it was a cloudy day, but when we left, the sun came out just for us. I hope the next years of McDonogh will be just as fun and awesome!
- I remember meeting Mr. Keplinger, a guy with cerebral palsy. He was very inspiring and made everyone in the whole fourth grade think about their complaints and ask themselves if it’s really worth whining about.
- A great memory for me is dropping the recycling bin in the recycling dumpster, then going in to try to retrieve it, then breaking it in half. It was hard telling Mr. Whiteford that.
- My favorite memory in the Lower School is being with all my friends and teachers. It almost brings a tear to my eyes, seeing me leave Lower School with all the memories I have had, and I’m also leaving so much behind.
After the ceremony concluded, the new fifth graders, along with teachers and guests, enjoyed a reception by the John McDonogh monument. Then many rushed back to their fourth-grade classrooms one more time.
- If you are quiet in class, be aware you might be the next one called, so participate!
- Don’t let anyone bully you or your friend. If anyone does, tell them to stop. If they don’t, tell a teacher, and they’ll help.
- Set a better example now for the younger, since you are the head of the Lower School now.
- Coming into your fourth grade year, you might be nervous. Don’t be. It is just like third grade with a bit more homework and responsibility.
- Use the moral compass. Treat others how you want to be treated. Be nice. Be a good friend. And include people; don’t exclude them.
- If you want Mrs. Reed to remember something, or remember you if you go to the bathroom before carpool, write it on her hand or hand her your backpack.
- Everyone makes mistakes. It’s hard to accept them though; I know that. But the point is, that it is just life. Accept it and be happy, or dwell on it and be miserable. You can even learn from your mistakes, as crazy as that sounds.
- Never get two desserts. Your teacher at your table might get mad.
- In fourth grade, always appreciate what the teacher lets you do.