Adios, 8th grade! Farewell, middle school!

Today was the last day of school around here! We're done with the ceremonies and concerts and finals and field trips and are ready to finally summer.

Because G had to miss Sam's 8th grade graduation/awards ceremony and all of our relatives live far away, I'm going to do a bit of braggery probably only palatable for family. Sam received the science award.* Here's the transcript of the tribute by his science teacher, who wanted to make sure I passed it along to G:

The Rotary Award in Science is given each year to the student whose high level of achievement is coupled with pure enthusiasm for the study of science. The pursuit of knowledge in science requires curiosity, creativity, and commitment. Many of my students this year possess these qualities in abundance, each bringing a special and memorable energy to the class. Among them is a student who has brought all of these qualities to bear in a steady, unpretentious manner.

This student has consistently maintained an A+ average, and demonstrates an unwavering rigor in the quality of his work. He has a mapmaker's attention to detail, a watchmaker's sense of precision. Whether collecting and analyzing data, working with a fellow student on a project, or just cleaning up equipment after a lab, this student approaches every task in science with dedication, concentration, and genuine enthusiasm.

His self-imposed discipline manifests in a level of science writing and illustration that is unsurpassed. He expresses scientific ideas and organizes scientific information in ingenious minature diagrams, like panels in a very clever graphic novel making such things as gravity, energy, phase changes, and the elements come to life. Someday, I believe his original creations, such as "the elevator in the building of matter," could grace the pages of his own books about science, in the spirit of David Macaulay's book The Way Things Work. Like Macaulay, like a scientist, he has a gift for explaining in detailed and imaginative ways, how things work.

Sam, it has been my honor and privilege to have you as a student in my class this year. I am happy to present to you the 2011-2012 Rotary Award in Science.


It's true that Sam loves science, devours anything by Radio Lab/Malcolm Gladwell/Jonah Lehrer, and has been devoted to drawing those tiny weekly illustrations this year.  He's a great kid who has worked hard and I do love his enthusiasm, creativity, unpretentiousness and effort. But do you know what I also see when I look at that page? All of those wonderful purple comments from a teacher whose own enthusiasm and passion brought out more of those qualities in Sam--in every student--every single week. I can't say whether he would have bothered with it, week after week, without the kind of conversation she kept going between them. And I know she had that impact on each of her students. I think that has been more valuable, more motivational than any award can be. Hooray for exceptional teachers!

*You know, I have to admit I'm sort of against awards until one of my kids gets one and then I'm all "well, he did work really hard..." Go ahead and roll your eyes, I won't look.