The entire idea of an eighth grade promotion ceremony used to seem so odd to me. I couldn't help think back to when I was in something called junior high school and you simply went from eighth or ninth grade right on to high school. No big deal (well, except I do remember being nervous as hell the night before the first day of school). Tonight, only a few hours after we send this newspaper to press, I'll be at my son's eighth grade promotion ceremony. I have mother brain, so that makes me see things a bit differently when it comes to the importance of taking the time to mark time. For my family, and I know many others out there with similar experiences, this is a particularly important evening closing difficult chapters that haven't always endeared us to acronyms such as IEP, BIP and more. At times nightmare was the best word to describe what we went through. However, these past two years have been particularly different for my son. He transcended acronyms—actually he left them in the dust. This has been his doing, his hard work and diligence, but I also recognize that what happened is what we wanted all along—that one special teacher. For us, that person is Orange Grove Middle School's music and choral teacher Beth Horn. I know in teacher meetings she's spoken on my son's behalf, but I also know, because of my son's love of music and singing, this woman gave my son a reason to come to school. He loves her, and because he loves her, so do we. Sure, you could say it's another example of why we need arts in schools. But if you really knew my family, you'd understand that it's much more. Ultimately, it's also about love, care and how each of us finds our path. This doesn't happen in a vacuum, but through the people we encounter. Cheers. Cheers to all families attending this time marker called eighth grade promotion and all the special ceremonies taking place this month. Mark time. Pay close attention to these moments. They allow us to reflect and years later recall the paths we traveled together and separately. And don't forget to thank someone. So, thanks Ms. Horn for two amazing years. Thanks for the gift you've given our son and allowing him his own moments in time on stage and in the classroom. A big thank you to the other teachers at Orange Grove and the amazing office staff. What would we do without people like you who seem, graciously, to love their work and the students? Now let's embrace summer (for us that means road trips, theater camp, Bookmans, unhurried mornings and love).
— Mari Herreras, firstname.lastname@example.org