At my previous school, we had a tradition of “adopting” seniors and doing our best to successfully “parent” them through their senior year. At my new school, we don’t adopt kids per se, but I always refer to my students as my “kids,” and despite the confusion this causes sometimes in conversation, I actually feel like they are my kids.
This year, I continued part of the adoption tradition with my AP Language and Composition students.
Every year, I find little tokens that can represent some of life’s greater lessons, and I put all those tokens together into a gift bag for my students, with an explanation of what each thing symbolizes (at least, what I think anyway).
Congratulations, you made it through AP Language and Composition!! I’m so proud of you!! I want you to know that even though you’re not my “kid” anymore, you will always have a place in my heart, and that having you as a student has forever changed my life – yes, for the better. Now that you’re ready to go begin your senior year, there are a few things you need to remember. As an English teacher, I’ve of course found some things that symbolize some very important reminders and life lessons.
Here is the list of this year’s symbols, and their explanations:
Lemonheads: Sometimes, life will give you lemons. It’s your decision, though, what to do with those lemons. Do you make lemonade? Do you let the lemon rule your life? Do you decide to give up and let the lemon dictate how you feel about your day? Or do you bite down on the lemon and show it who is boss?
Heart Sticker: Well, your heart is important. And here is a quotation to help you remember that: “Sometimes the heart sees what is invisible to the eye” (H. Jackson Brown). Trust your gut, your heart, your motivation, your will. Remember to always look below the surface of a situation and try to figure out what is really going on before you react.
Star Sticker: I love looking at the stars. They remind me that I am small, that there are many other things bigger and more important than me. And here is another quotation: “Dwell on the beauty of life. Watch the stars, and see yourself running in them” (Marcus Aurelius).
Happy Face Sticker: You get to choose whether or not you are happy. If you constantly see the negative in life, that is what you will experience and feel and that will consume your life. If you choose to greet each day with a smile, and well, make the day your bitch, you will be much happier.
Flower Sticker: I’m going to go literal for a moment. This is a flower. Don’t forget to put down your phones, iPods, iPads, computers, textbooks, whatever you feel is very important in the moment, and TAKE THE TIME TO REMEMBER THAT THERE ARE BEAUTIFUL LIVING, BREATHING THINGS IN THIS WORLD. That is all.
Hug: There. I gave you one. AND you get to keep it. Are you happy? (A little context for this: I am not a hugger. My students know this, and you probably figured that out anyway, but I felt like I should explain.)
Crazy 8 Card: Sometimes, things in life don’t make sense unless you realize your part in the bigger picture, or until you realize that you don’t make sense at all without the rest of your “pack.” Choose your friends wisely, and remember that your pack always makes you complete.
Small Balloon: Life is what you fill it with. If you choose to fill it with happiness, you will be happy. If you choose to fill it with poop, you will feel crappy. See how that works?
Pipe Cleaner: Remember to always be flexible in life, because you never know what you can become if you learn how to move, or bend, in a different way.
Pom Pom: Sometimes, things that sparkle are just fun. And they’re cute. Embrace the simple things in life, and understand that they are there to be enjoyed, not overlooked.
Beads: Sometimes life will give you something that is incomplete. That doesn’t mean it is any less fun or beautiful, but it does mean that you have a responsibility to make it something better, and bigger, and ultimately, these beads—and every situation in life—are what you make them into.
Enjoy…and again, I am so, SO proud of you.