Farewell Grade Seven

Last night was a celebration of the end of our son’s Grade Seven year. There was a couple slideshows. The first slideshow was a “Before and Now” where there was a picture of the kids from being babies/toddlers to present day. The kids had good laughs as they called out the names of the baby pictures.

Following the slideshow was an introduction of each child and a small blurb about favorite memories and future plans. The kids walked across the stage to shake hands with their teachers and vice principal, pausing for a photo op before returning to the audience. The only picture I was able to get of our son- he had his eyes closed. Of course.

After all the kids were introduced, the parents who chaperoned the camp where brought on stage. We were each given a handmade thank you card from the cabin group we were in charge of. This was followed up with a slideshow of the adventures from camp was shared. Pictures and videos were set to music expressing the adventures with a bit of sorrow as the realization that these kids aren’t going to be kids much longer.

After the “ceremony” we mingled amongst the parents enjoying snacks and sharing memories. There was some tears and laughs as the kids and parents hung out. It was a great evening that I was glad to attend and be a part of.

Supporting the Students

Today my son shared with me some of the school work he has been working on this year. It was a part of a “Student Lead Conference” that was going on today. I’m always thrilled to see what they’ve been learning. It’s even better because of our son’s enthusiasm.

He was keen to show me everything. From how clean his locker was to his poem and picture of a Blue Butterfly. We spoke of science, math and French as well. I also took the opportunity to speak with his teachers as well and heard nothing but encouragement. In fact, the one teacher was really excited to tell me which group of kids I was going to have in the cabin in June. (It’s a secret that I am not allowed to tell my son.)

I have always been a huge proponent of the education system of all students. In the front of the school is this mural that I helped to create and be a part of a few years ago. There was a set of meetings that brought the teachers, parents, and the community together to help develop our district.

Years later, I see how innovative and successful the students are becoming. And how they are willing to grow and learn in different ways. Knowing that our kids aren’t afraid to share what they are learning makes me happy. It’s a relationship that I want to encourage and have flourish over time.

Supporting our youth today will make for a better world tomorrow.

School Camping Trip

In June, my son will be attending his grade seven camping trip. My daughters each did it for their grade seven year. It’s a tradition that is upheld in our local community schools. It’s something the teachers look forward to as well as the students. It’s kind of like a farewell to the kids before they enter high school.

The big difference this year is that I’ll be attending as one of the parent volunteers. My son requested I come at the start of the school year. Of course I wanted to be a part of it. I found out on Friday night that I have been accepted to be a chaperone. My son couldn’t be happier. I’m looking forward to it.

I did a grade seven camp as a kid and had a pretty good time. I also attended a cub scout camp for one summer a few years prior. Both were great experiences. Looking back though, some of the councilors were a bit sketchy. Hopefully I won’t come across as sketchy.

I’ve met most of the kids in my son’s grade. He also has a collection of what I consider to be “top notch” friends. All of them have a wonderful sense of humor and are really delightful kids. Since they’ve all met me, they know I can be a bit, uh, zany?

In the end, I am excited about making memories for my son and his friends. The trip should be a ton of fun!

Computer Calculus

Back in October, our oldest had saved up money and bought herself a New Computer. She has been very proud of it and has taken extra care with it. Over the past few weeks, she has been using it for a school project.

The project was for her Pre-Calculus class. She had to enter formulas to plot out lines and curves on a graph to make a symbol. While many students chose much easier symbols, our daughter (who loves the tv show Supernatural) chose a much more intricate design. After weeks and hours of working on perfecting the equations, she is finally done. She also finished before her deadline which is the end of January. I am impressed because of her passion in the project, and mostly because she had to explain something to me that I didn’t have a clue about.

She has demonstrated that she is capable of a great many things throughout her life. Now that she has finished this project, she has been wanting us to pay for Adobe Photoshop for her. Part of the deal was to make sure she doesn’t fall behind in school work for a hobby. I think this Calculus assignment has proven to us that she can be committed to her word.

We look forward to seeing what she can do with Photoshop and her photography. My wife would like her to clean up some of our photos as well. Our daughter has also hinted at writing more music, only time will tell. But I’m glad to see she is far exceeding my abilities in computing.

Life Lesson

My son is only twelve years old and in grade 7. But he learned a tough lesson this week at school. He got suspended because of a fight that broke out the other day.

He wasn’t physically fighting, but he became one of the students in the small crowd of thirteen kids who watched and did nothing. Four of the students pulled out phones and filmed the situation. The rest cheered. Including my son who was caught on camera by one of the four kids. I support the school district’s decision about the punishment for all fifteen kids.

Yesterday at the end of school, my son was told that he was suspended. He was so distraught that his tears became heavy sobs.

I’m glad he learned this lesson now before adulthood kicks in. We’ve had a good discussion about what he could’ve done differently and what he plans to do next time. I also explained that as he gets older, there can be real world consequences for similar offenses.

His suspension has him home from school today. So I will be putting him to work doing some manual labor around the home. He knows that he better not argue with me about it.

Normally he is a great and loving child. This time he got caught up in the moment and made a poor decision which he has since regretted. I hope he learns from this and makes better choices to help people out instead of sitting idly by.

The Wizard Of Speed and Time

The Fine Arts School that our children attend is in full session now. The children are getting excited about the upcoming year. They have a lot on their plates: various music classes, theater tech, film, photography, yearbook, carving- as well as the academic classes. This school isn’t just 9-3 either. Some days the kids arrive at 07:30am. Some days they leave at 5:30pm.

It’s a full time commitment.

My wife and I have always encouraged the children to explore and discover new talents. Our 14 year old daughter is taking Stop Motion Animation this year and I am jittery with excitement. I’ve always loved that style of animation and films- It was big for me growing up in the 1980’s.

Most of it was Claymation (like the California Raisins). With some shows on a regular rotation such as reruns of these gems:

Gumby (1956-)

Jeremy the Bear (1968-1974)


Then there were animation movies that really came out and showed off a more demonic style of “Children’s Movies”. Here is one of my favorites:

The Adventure Of Mark Twain (1985)


But the 80’s also used stop motion to capture a new style of special effect. It brought monsters to life in films such as:

Clash of the Titans (1981)


Sometimes, a stop motion film was able to tell a story about itself… This afternoon I shared with my daughter (the one taking stop motion animation) an obscure film that I enjoyed from years gone by.

The Wizard Of Speed And Time (1988)

This film is based on the short stop motion film of the same title from 1977.

The original 3 minute film was shown during a segment of The Wonderful World of Disney which is where I first saw it.

However, this version showcases the artist struggling to make his film and all the roadblocks encountered along the way. It took five years to make and was completed in 1988. I love how this film is simple in its delivery and carries numerous subliminal messages. It has a charm that won’t win it any awards, but the heart this film shares is immense.

After showing the film to my daughter, she is now more inspired to film stop motion than ever before. I hope she can bring forth some effects and styles from this film.

Perhaps one day she will be the next Wizard Of Speed and Time.

I’ll Teach You To Be Happy

As much as I didn’t like high school, I’ve been trying to find some more positive aspects of my time there lately. So I began going through some of my old cds that I picked up during those “formative years.”

I never had a great cd collection at the start of grade 8 as most were mix tapes or soundtracks to movies on cassette (Prince’s BATMAN anyone?) However, back in the early 90’s, when I was but a nerd in grade 10, one of my favorite cartoons came out with a cd so I needed to purchase it.

The Ren and Stimpy Show: YOU EEDIOT!

The leaflet inside is still in pristine condition, considering how I read the lyrics until every song was memorized. Ya, back in the day before you were able to Google lyrics- if a cd came with lyrics, it was kind of a big deal.

I’m not saying I became popular because of this cd. But I found a kinship in other students who also enjoyed The Ren and Stimpy Show. Singing songs like “The Royal Canadian Kilted Yaksmen” or “Happy Happy Joy Joy” made me happy. It even opened up the door to other comedy cds and shows. A specific love of Monty Python was hatched at this time as well.

This is a song about a whale.

NO! This is a song about being happy: Happy Happy Joy Joy

The hardest part about being a teenager in the 90’s was the fact that you could only bring one cd at a time. And you hopped to hell that your “Anti-skip” on the CD player didn’t drain your battery before you finished your day in school.

Sharing an earbud and with a girl was also a sign that she was into you. Ya, listening to half a stereo sound was a true sign of affection. It was also a great way to ignore people.

I’m starting to feel better these days just listening to the goofiness of this album. Happiness is on its way.

Now boys and girls, let’s try this again.

Wake Me Up When September Ends

September is rough month for me. I kinda hate this month. By the nineteenth of September- I’m usually a Grade A Asshole. Let me explain…

Memories of school and how much it didn’t do the right thing for my life are prevalent this time of year. The bullies, the terrible teachers (not all, but the ones who sucked- sucked bad), the routine of doing it each and every day.

But my time at school is nearly 25 years behind me. It should be a distant memory. Except I have kids. Kids who go to school. So I get to try and be a counselor as well as a parent when it comes to school. Taking from my own experiences to try and help them through theirs. Granted, it seems that things are going much better for my children than it did for me. Lucky bums.

September 19th is a critical point for me. That’s my father’s former birthday. It’s just one more reason for me to be a better man. He didn’t ever know what was going on in my life. Or if he did- he didn’t care. So I stopped caring.

My entire life, I always just wanted September to end. Just go away all together if possible. Maybe I should do a month long coma each year. Like some stasis pod thingy. Or maybe I just need to make the best of it nowadays. Enjoy the fall colors as they slowly set in.

I’m just going to go to back to bed and see what happens later. Wake me up when September ends.

Back to Getting Ready for Back to School

Last week we received an email about our daughters’ courses for the upcoming school year. As with every year, there are mistakes that need to be corrected before starting in September. No big deal really. In fact, the school is pretty good about fixing these things. Especially the academic courses.

This morning, my wife is heading out to the school office to make the appropriate changes. Being that our oldest is entering her last two years of high school, we deemed it important to get on the corrections immediately. Crazy to think that even as a teenager, our kids have to start planning for university well in advance.

I’m impressed at the goals our kids are setting for themselves. My wife and I will support them as much as possible throughout these crucial years. Hard to believe that another summer is drawing to an end though.

I’m starting to miss my children being kids already.

Humph

Today was meant to be the first day of summer and the first day of our daughter’s summer vacation. Instead, we got a call from our oldest daughter’s Social Studies teacher this morning. Turns out our daughter wasn’t handing in her work this semester.

Her teacher gave her numerous warnings and opportunities to hand in her work. So instead of sleeping in and enjoying the start of summer vacation- I had to take my daughter to school to finish her incomplete assignments. Lucky for her that the teacher is allowing this. Back in my day: If I didn’t hand in my work- I failed.

My wife and I warned our daughter midway through the semester when we saw her report card that if she failed the class, she would be attending summer school. Which meant she wouldn’t be working at the job she loves and saving money for the laptop she wants to buy. I’m not sure why this threat didn’t motivate her. Back in grade 8- she did the same thing for science.

In grade 8, she barely passed science- we made her do summer school in order to prove a point. She hated summer school. Not because of the work. She got an A (even though she did great in summer school- the school district wouldn’t increase her grade from passing). What she didn’t like was the quality of students attending. Many still didn’t care to be there and they put minimal effort in.

I’m not saying that I was a perfect student. After grade 12 ended, I was short One Credit to graduate. I ended up doing night school and paid for it out of my own pocket in order to be done. All because I dropped the ball on too many classes between grade 11 and 12. The hardest part now is trying to explain to my children to not screw up like I did.

I’m not angry at our daughter. Just frustrated. Probably the same way my parents were frustrated with my sister and I way back when…