Graduation for Fifth Grade, Really?

In order to bring some meaningful traffic to my blog, I have been participating in online mom communities like Mamapedia and Modern Mom. It’s fascinating to me the questions that people have about all sorts of topics. Today, one such question got my attention:

“What is the proper etiquette for gift-giving? Do you give gifts for a 5th-grade graduation party?”

As an educator (and a mom), I’m a big believer in celebrating accomplishments: earning a good grade on a long-term project, making the honor roll, placing first in the spelling bee, earning a letter in a sport, being chosen to design the cover of the yearbook, so on and so forth.

However, I am having a hard time with all of the various graduation celebrations these days. Let’s just hope that soon the reduction of class sizes will become reality. That’s more important, wouldn’t you agree?

Pre-school, Kindergarten, Fifth grade, Eighth grade, High School, College, and beyond. It’s overkill. I know for some kids, maybe Eighth grade is as far as they will get, and I’ve worked at schools like that, but is this really what the U.S. education system has come to that we now celebrate the completion of Fifth grade? Fifth grade. Long ago when I was a kid, we didn’t graduate from Fifth grade. We completed it and then moved on to Sixth grade. There was no hoopla.

At one school where I was the principal, they held a Fifth-grade graduation ceremony. Although I was appalled, I didn’t cancel it, because the school community valued it, and the practice was a part of the school history. I think a class trip at the end of the year would be appropriate to celebrate moving on to middle school. But a graduation ceremony? No.

As a parent, I would not want a graduation ceremony for my Fifth-grade child either. I would certainly recognize and celebrate the successful completion of Fifth grade as I would for each grade, but in my opinion, a true graduation celebration occurs at the end of high school, at the end of college, and hopefully at the end of graduate school.

So to quote the words of one of my favorite wise men on Sportscenter, “C’mon man!”