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Posted: June 27, 2011

Today I attended the 8th grade graduation of my youngest son at the Pierce School in Brookline.  That may not sound like a big deal, but because the school is a K-8 one and I have a 10-year spread between my oldest and youngest, not only is my son moving on but I am too!  I’ve been a part of the close Pierce community for twenty-years.  During that time, I’ve certainly seen some changes in the school—for example, when my older two sons were there, there was no MCAS testing and teachers taught what their judgment found developmentally appropriate.  A first grade teacher was able to do an amazing curriculum around art appreciation and to this day my son can discuss the phases of painting and the significance of different periods—but most importantly, can enjoy a trip to any art museum (thank you, to his teacher Addie).  All sons have a love of poetry that I wouldn’t have thought possible but for Ginny’s legendary 3rd grade poetry reading and writing unit.  

But I digress.  While there have been many changes over this period, much has remained the same.  The awe and openness with which kindergarten kids approach school remains; the uncomfortable surliness of the 8th graders remains as well.  Tonight I was contemplating the growth and aging process for young adults; by day I think a lot about the aging process for older adults.  And just like the transition from kindergarten to eighth grade, there are elements that are in common for almost all of us, and things that are quite unique to each of us.

At JCHE we think a lot about how we can help everyone age gracefully; drawing on our experience with such a large number of seniors that patterns emerge and lessons can be learned and transferred, while making sure we never lump everyone together but rather respond to each individual.   

And then I reflect on my own awareness that my son’s graduation ends my identity as a Pierce School parent. These life transitions never happen in isolation. Yes, we need to remember that growth at any age has elements that are both typical and unique. We are also reminded that the process of transition impacts all who are essential in our lives.  

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