"I wish there never had to be a June 19th"
I knew the last day of school would be a bittersweet day. We were feeling the fatigue of this whirlwind of a year combined with immense excitement in anticipation for a summer full of regrouping and strategic planning. I knew it would be hard to say goodbye to the little buddies we’d spent the last 188 school days living life with, even if goodbye was just for 2 short months. Those kids will always be special because they were the inaugural class. They are the crew that saw our tears, they celebrated our victories alongside us and they encouraged us in our insecurities and relentlessly reminded us with their lives that they are worth fighting for. We will never have a first year again, closing that chapter was sentimentally overwhelming.
But I didn’t feel any of those emotions last Friday. That whole week was filled with ridiculously fun activities. We made slime and had water ballon fights, we painted and went to a water park, we played crazy games and went swimming, basically we gave kids every reason to remember that they are loved and celebrated and school is the greatest place on earth. In the midst of all the celebration there was this looming emotional fog. It came early in the week when Michael with tears in his eyes said, “I wish there never had to be a June 19th.” It came with Demond’s unceasing pleas to not have a summer break. It came when James’ mom said he’d been crying every night because he knew the school year was almost over. The fog was present in the extra long hugs and the desperate need for reassurance that school would start back up on August 12th. A count down began for when we could all be back together again at school. On the last day, Keith came in and asked the kids if they were excited about summer break. The room went dead silent. He quickly changed the question to who’s excited for first grade and the room came back to life. During that final take home route we fought back tears as the eyes of our faithful buddies welled over at the sadness of saying goodbye to the safety of school. As Kistin got out at her house her voice quivered and her eyes got teary as she said, “Miss Moore I just don’t know what’s going to happen next.” Summer was about to happen and for so many of our buddies that was a bitter reality because of uncertainty and a break in what had become a beloved family routine.
As Mer and I reflected we sat in silence trying to process what just happened. I had never experienced summer break being such a dreaded thing. All I could muster to say was, “I never want to do that to them again.” The beautiful thing is we had already decided long before we knew all of the last day emotions that we were switching to a year round school model. The last week confirmed that our decision was wise. So we’re jumping back in on August 12th and the longest break we will have from the UCA family is 3 weeks. We will have shorter breaks more often to give teachers and scholars alike time and space to rest but we will skip out on extended breaks that create too many gaps in meeting kids physical, spiritual and educational needs.
While the tears and sadness of the end of year leave us with a weighty feeling, that sadness, to say goodbye to school, is also a beautiful reminder that we did it. When UCA was in the conversation stage, one thing we articulated as a litmus test of our school's success was by way of a question: If kids didn't have to come to school, would they? The last day confirmed that the answer for our students was yes. They were sad to take a break because they love Urban Christian Academy. And that reality is worth celebrating. We couldn't have created a space where kids are loved and nurtured and inspired without our team of champions, without you. We know this celebration isn't about Mer and I pulling off an impossible feat. This celebration is a reminder that we have literally been carried on the shoulders of prayer warriors and sacrifical givers and people who have given up their time to mop the floor. You have locked arms with us so we could open up the doors to a school that kids want to come into. A school that they love so much they cry about leaving.
This reality leaves us eager to jump into next year with a team of people who are committed to continuing making school a safe and sought after place to be for UCA scholars. There are some really great ways you can join the team:
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