The Graduate…

In the United States, fifth grade officially marks the end of elementary school or primary school, as we would know it in New Zealand. If we had been staying in Portland, Olive would have moved onto Middle School after the summer break. Middle schools are a bit like New Zealand intermediate schools although students attend them for three years as opposed to two.

Reaching the end of fifth grade brought with it a flurry of activities, trips and special studies for Olive. First up was marching with the Bridlemile band in the Junior Rose Parade. You might remember from my last post that one of Portland’s nicknames is the City of Roses and every year the city hosts a festival of roses, with parades, dragon boats, floral displays and the crowning of the rose queen.  The junior rose parade is the country’s oldest and largest children’s parade, and marching bands from various local schools are the major attraction.

RP1

My Dad is a very talented trumpet player. He used to play in the dance halls in his native Edinburgh and when he had a young family, he’d do a full days work then head out at night to play in Wellington clubs like the Majestic Cabaret, to bring in extra money. Jonny Gilbertson even appears in the liner notes of an early recording by none other than Kiwi opera legend Kiri Te Kanawa. Whilst his children have dabbled with various musical instruments over the years, none picked up the trumpet, and none of his grandchildren have either…until now…

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We suspect that Olive’s decision to ditch orchestra and join band was the lure of marching in the parade but she surprised us by not only choosing the trumpet for her instrument but also, by actually being quite good at it!

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I have to admit to feeling very emotional as we watched her marching through the streets of the Hollywood district and did wish my Dad could have been there. We don’t have the school marching band tradition in New Zealand but Olive has assured us she wants to keep up playing the horn.

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Since then there has been a jet boat trip on the Willamette, a pool party, a quick Shakespeare study – Olive was chosen to read Juliet’s part…swoon – and a little bit of FLASH education. Despite the interesting acronym, flash is nothing to do with men in long raincoats – it’s the good old puberty education unit and Olive told me exactly nothing about it! “So what did you talk about?” “Mum! Nothing! I’m not telling you!” “Anything you want to ask me or share?” “I’ve already told you Mum…nothing!” “Who’s giggling and being inappropriate? Tell me about the questions from the anonymous box!” “For God’s sake Mum!!”  She didn’t actually say that last bit but I suspect she really wanted to!

Today was the last day of school and it began with the Fifth Grade promotion ceremony. Each fifth grade teacher made a little speech about their class and then each child marched across the stage to receive a certificate.

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It’s super hard to get Olive to dress up for anything…she could do with some tips from one of her classmates…bow tie!

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The day ends with the fifth grade clap out. As the bell rings, the graduating class emerge from a certain door and walk along a path lined with parents clapping and high five-ing…

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You try wielding a big camera and high five-ing at the same time!
5G3
Yes that is my outstretched hand being ignored…I suspect the FLASH anecdote has something to do with it…

It’s been a hugely emotional week…lots of grieving for what we are leaving behind…but also excitement at what lies ahead. For now I just want to thank the wonderful Bridlemile Elementary community. Our girls have been so happy here and whilst they are both very sad to leave, their tears just reinforce what a great place it is…

EdieK1
What’s not to love about a school that has karaoke on the last day!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Broadway Bound!

Our local university, Shenandoah, has a very highly regarded music department. The Shenandoah Conservatory not only provides undergraduate and postgraduate study for college students from all over the world, but it also offers music, singing, dance and theatre classes for the children of Winchester through it’s arts academy.

Last week Olive and Edie took part in a Burning Up Broadway themed summer camp run by the arts academy. Over the course of five mornings they rehearsed and then performed a musical called Hats!

The stage is set for Hats!
The stage is set for Hats!

They had to learn songs, dance routines, lines of script, and also make the scenery and props. On the Friday morning they performed the show for invited parents and friends.

"Party! Let's Party! We'll take it from the top!" (Yes I did know all the words by the end of the week!)
“Party! Let’s Party! We’ll take it from the top!” (Yes I did know all the words by the end of the week!)
Edie's teacher in Belgium - the wonderful Miss Sarah - wrote on her school report that she is "a true performer". That was clearly evident on Friday morning!
Edie’s teacher in Belgium – the wonderful Miss Sarah – wrote on her school report that she is “a true performer”. That was clearly evident on Friday morning!
Delivering one of her lines, dressed in her beautiful hat.
Delivering one of her lines, dressed in her beautiful hat.
She even got to sing a tiny solo about the special hat one wears when graduating.
She even got to sing a tiny solo about the special hat one wears when graduating. Don’t you love all the technology in action recording the show!
Olive's character Ima Milliner didn't have a hat and Olive had to sing about her search for the perfect hat. The notes were pretty high but she was in tune - mum tried not to sniff too loudly!
Olive’s character Ima Milliner didn’t have a hat and Olive had to sing about her search for the perfect hat. The notes were pretty high but she was in tune – mum tried not to sniff too loudly!
A couple of old hats! Boom boom!
A couple of old hats! Boom boom!
This song was all about sporting hats.
This song was all about sporting hats but Ima didn’t want one of those.
There was a very patriotic song about Uncle Sam's red, white and blue hat.
There was a very patriotic song about Uncle Sam’s red, white and blue hat.
Here's Ima in the hat she finally settled on...a Carmen Miranda inspired masterpiece which was made by all the children.
Here’s Ima in the hat she finally settled on…a Carmen Miranda inspired masterpiece which was made by all the children.
"My head, my heart" - Edie belting out the closing number.
“My head, my heart” – Edie belting out the closing number.
Check out those facial expressions!
Check out those facial expressions!
The traditional after show party with the cast.
The traditional after show party with the cast.

To say that the girls enjoyed their week of Hats! would be a monumental understatement – they adored it! They leaped out of bed every morning (for Olive this is nothing short of a minor miracle) and bombarded me with “is it time to go yet?” every minute until we got in the car. Their teacher was wonderful and the other children were just as enthusiastic – worth every penny.  Olive and Edie have now decided to join up for the arts academy’s group singing class which begins in September. Methinks they have been bitten well and truly by the stage bug!

"Yo, yo yo...watch out Broadway! Here we come!"
“Yo, yo yo…watch out Broadway! Here we come!”

Croadworks ahead!

If you’ve stumbled across this page – welcome. I’m in the process of creating a new blog about our family’s move to Winchester, VA in August 2012. Check back then to start sharing our adventures.