Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Today was Graduation Day, and may have been my favorite graduation of any that have happened so far. A good part of that can be attributed to the fact that I didn't have to say goodbye to any of the children - they were all graduating into our middle school program, so they will all remain part of this community in the coming year. Part of it was also due to the fact that we "graduated" the whole school from the old building to the new one on Platt Road - and by an unlooked for blessing of fate, we were able to all swarm into the building and explore it informally. It did good things for my heart to see that lovely space with kids in it, as it is meant to be.

As usual, I wrote poems for the graduating students. This time I changed the format. Rather than writing a poem each for them (which will now happen when they graduate from middle school to high school at the end of their 8th grade) I wrote a collective poem for each group - the 4th graders moving into 5th (the start of middle school at Summers-Knoll) and the 5th graders who were new to us this year and had therefore not had a graduation ceremony yet. Here are the poems for the children. For the 4th grade:

The 4th Grade Solar System

Yesterday Venus crossed the sun.
A small black circle moving with purpose
A determined little thing
Sailing a sea of fire.
Once every hundred and sixty years this happens.
All across the world people stopped
And watched in awe.
We also have planets, right here with us, crossing the
Enormous span of the sun:
Planet Matthew is a portal to a new dimension,
Where dragons and strange beasts of legend
Are real and red with life.
Planet Noah moves around the sun
Three times faster than any other celestial body
And from time to time his orbit
Takes a loop out to visit other stars.
If you visit Planet Anna you will find
A world as rich in life as our earth is,
Where numbers fly like birds across the wind,
And words with wide eyes scurry in the woods.
On Planet Laurea the rocks themselves
Are deep with thought and bright with
Diamonds of imagination. Sometimes the stones get together and
Put on a little play.
There are two Planet Henrys in this solar system,
Scientifically known as A and K.
Planet A pushes his orbit out. Every trip around the sun
Takes him further outward into space, pushing, pushing out,
Conquering the black vastness, filling it with light.
Planet K loops up and down, round and round
Rollercoastering along its path
Leaving a comet-trail of sparks that,
When you look at it carefully, through a telescope, you will see
It is made of words longer than any other words
The universe has ever heard.
Planet Melissa is composed, not of rock, but
Of volatile elements, dancing and
Occasionally erupting with a sound of laughter. Colors mix and swirl
Astronauts who have landed on Planet Lee report
The ground has voice, and each step you take
It speaks to you and tells you strange
And revelatory facts about the universe.
They have come back to earth and written books
Full of the knowledge that they gained,
Walking on Planet Lee.
The last one in this solar system, Planet Alexandra,
Glows with radiance from its inner core
Of sun. It compresses and expands like breath,
Focusing in, radiating out, focusing in, radiating out,
Steady on its orbit like a bird flying home.
Together in this solar system they all dance and shine,
Each planet circling, moving on its course,
Making a pattern full of wondrous
Worlds that weave together.
This will never happen quite this way again,
These planets, ever-evolving, ever-unique,
Crossing the sun, moving on their way
Are once in an eternity.
Venus has nothing on it.

And for the 5th grade:

Brains Going Places

All year long,
In a very small room,
In an odd little place
With a basement gloom,
A few young brains
With warmth and light
Melted the walls,
Took off in flight.

Cory’s brain did this in a very literal way. It devised an aircraft, with special brain-transporting capabilities. The aircraft had everything a brain could want: a bank of knowledge-capsules for nourishment, communication portals for those moments when it wanted to check in with other brains, an intensely streamlined shape for faster-than-light travel, and plenty of hard-core weaponry in case of an alien attack. Cory’s brain went far in this aircraft. No one but Cory is quite sure how far.

When Cory’s brain
Burst through the wall
It left a hole
Five feet tall.
Other brains
Peered through the hole
And found their own way
To their goal.

Isobel’s brain took a basket of knowledge and set off through the woods to the Kindergarten house. It had made the knowledge into especially tasty treats: bookberry preserves, historical honey, scientific syrup and better-thinking butter. It entered the Kindergarten house where all the little brains were clamoring for food, and it fed them delicious spoonfuls of knowledge from the basket. When everything had been gobbled up, Isobel’s brain took all the kindergarten brains into the sun-filled woods to play.

Isobel’s brain
Shared and taught
And doing that
Found what it sought.
Other brains
Tried other roads,
Made their way
In their own modes.

Mikey’s brain set about turning the earth into a Medieval castle built entirely out of sugar cubes. Once the whole planet had been re-formed in this way, Mike’s brain invested it with a system of peace and justice so that the castle became a bastion of respect and social equity. Everyone in the world came and lived in Mike’s brain’s castle, practiced friendship, and licked sugar off the walls.

Mike’s brain is set
To change the earth,
Ensure world peace,
Increase our worth.
Another brain
Slipped through the wall
Spread its wings,
Reached up tall.

Aristea’s brain layered the world with multiple dimensions like sheets of shimmering, iridescent silk, each layer glowing softly with different opportunities. One dimension was populated exclusively by spaghetti. Others were portals to lands filled with strange beings, colors never seen before, angels with many wings, words that took shape and became alive. Aristea’s brain moved from dimension to dimension, and as it moved, the silken worlds grew to infinite possibilities.

Has a brain
Full of sunshine,
Full of rain.

All the brains
Within that room
(The small room filled
With basement gloom)
Know how to fly,
Know how to soar;
They learn the world
And make it more.