• Cara Parker

Dear Fifth Grader

Dear Fifth Grader in My Class,


The last six weeks have been wild.



We have been working from a distance. I have been trying to teach through videos, and you have been trying to learn through your phone or Chromebook. We've been trying to create some normal routines in an abnormal time. I look forward to our Read-Alouds where the first ten minutes are chaos and the last two minutes are reluctance to say goodbye.


We are making it work, but it's not the same.


I miss you.



Today, you asked me about the "Puberty Talk", and I almost burst into tears.


You see, the puberty talk is my favorite day of the year. It's a rite of passage for all fifth graders. I love how you leave the room so full of innocence, and you come back to the room with your eyes only on the floor, afraid to look at someone of the opposite gender. I love how the next Monday, you come in a little bit more mature, a little bit older, and a little bit more confident.


It's the start of the goodbye.



Normally, we spend April vacation until the last day of school in this chaotic schedule of interruptions to our daily lives.


Puberty talk.

Band trips.

Strings trips.

Chorus trips.

Special assemblies.

Fifth Grade Play.

Middle school peer visits.

Middle school move-up days.

5th Grade Camp.

5th Grade Completion Ceremony Rehearsals.

T-shirt signing.

The Bridge Building Project.

Cleaning out your locker. Cleaning off the desk that will be the last "permanent desk" you have.

Helping me pack up the room.

Finding treasures from the year.

Finding reasons to talk about the memories.


And then, there's the Completion Ceremony, where I stand at the microphone and call your name, and you stand proudly, not quite sure that you are ready to leave elementary school, but at the same time, ready to move on to middle school.


Immediately after is the 5th grade reception, where you hang by my side, not quite sure what to say, but afraid to leave. And you hug me harder than you have hugged anyone in a long time.


There are tears. And there are smiles. And, all of a sudden, your feet can't move, because you can't possibly leave your elementary school and your teacher.


We are not going to have this, and it breaks my heart.


You will be the class that didn't get the fifth grade experience.


I know you'll be fine, because you have already learned the lessons of flexibility and resilience. Because of this, you will be strong.




But at the same time, this worldwide pandemic has stripped you from this rite of passage.


And I am so sorry and I am so sad for you.