The Kids Club 5th Grade Graduation party is a highly anticipated event every year at Casa. I often get questions from excited 5th graders on the first day of school, “Ms. Marissa, when are we going to plan the graduation party?” It’s a day where the entire Kids Club community – parents, students, mentors, friends – gathers to celebrate our graduates as they move into a new season of school and life. It’s a day full of joy, memories, and community building.
Because of COVD-19, this year’s celebration looked a little different. There wasn’t a huge crowd or tons of decorations. It was a simple, socially distant picnic outside for our 9 students. Despite its simplicity, the day was just as special and memorable as celebrations in years past. Our Kids Club friends got to see their peers and staff, many of them for the first time in 3 months. They donned graduation caps and gowns, competed in the Oreo challenge, opened their gifts, and just enjoyed being around one another, talking about their excitement and nervousness in entering middle school.
Two things were particularly special this year. The first was a surprise video from the parents. Parents filmed encouraging words about their children, and they were played during the celebration. I loved watching the faces of our kids as they watched their parents tell them how much they loved them, how proud they were of them, and how they would support them always. It was beautiful to watch our students receive these words of affirmation, each of them grinning from ear to ear when they saw their parents on the screen. The second was a personal one. I first met this group of students when they were in 1st grade, the year I began working at Casa. I reflected on how much each of them has grown, the obstacles they have overcome, and the memories we have shared. I am so thankful for the ways we have gotten to develop relationships with them throughout their time in elementary school and look forward to watching them grow as middle schoolers through Teens Club!
– Marissa, Youth Programs Director at Casa Chirilagua