We gathered on the school grounds that day. The closing ceremony was titled “Moving-up and Recognition Program”, intended for those who completed Elementary Level (Grade 6 moving on to high school), for the Kindergarten (moving on to Grade 1), and to recognize children’s academic excellence and exemplary values.
All BP kids were in attendance, cheering loudly as a BP child went on stage to receive the awards. Michael, high honors. Isabel, high honors. Mariel, high honors. Jenica, task champ, Judy Ann, most cheerful. Sam, most creative hands. The list was long. While waiting for her name, Love’s hands were cold and sweaty but she was smiling.
Going to school is hard work, especially for a child in Batang Pinangga. One school year is too long for children who lost their development years to malnutrition and trauma. They could not sit still in the classroom throughout the day. We have one boy who would bring his classmates to the nearby river and catch fish rather than be in the class. Worried parents and teachers pinpointed to our boy as trouble, and so it was arranged that our boy would report only to school for the exams and he learned at home. He finished the school year.
Or we have a girl who would say that, “Mama I will not go to school in the afternoon I am too sleepy”. We have a child who repeated Grade 1 for three years. The other children told him, “Niño, if you do not pass this year, Daniel can catch-up with you.” (Daniel was five years old.) On the recognition day he said to me, “Papa Butch, finally I passed this year”, and he was grinning.
It’s more hard work for the high school. School projects after projects. Less sleeping hours. No time even to do ones’ laundry. When Benjamin got on stage to receive his awards as highest honors, first in his level, he truly deserved it. Or when the twins Jerry and Jason walked up the stage to receive their completion certificate for junior high, all the headaches of school were put behind. Isabel, our fifth grader, addressed the assembly of kindergarten completers in a well delivered speech. It was her first time to be in front of the whole school. She could never forget that.
As each BP child went to the stage to receive the awards, one parent said the BP children are outperforming all other children in many ways, considering their circumstances, and she felt good just by looking at them this way.
We know the feeling. Year after year we see our children making it through. Before the ceremony the children already told their houseparent, “Mama, you will be the one to pin me the ribbon or give the medal”. And the mother said, “yes, I will surely.” And so many of us went to pin the ribbon, to give the medal, to cheer, to feel happy.
Those were winning moments for our kids, and the honors are ours, too.