• Matt DeBoer

Certified!

It’s that glorious time of year again, the end of school. For us, it’s a bonus year, because it is also 8th grade certification or something like that. I don’t remember my 8th grade certification ceremony because we didn’t have an 8th grade certification. I didn’t know you had to be certified to attend 9th grade. In my day it was called passing. Or as most of the teachers I know refer to it, passing the problem to the next group.


I wonder if that happens amongst the teacher group? They are a bit of a secret society in a way. I can say that because my family is full of educators and I’ve seen first-hand how it works, which is why I’m even more curious now.


Say there is a problem child, we will call him Kevin. Kevin Boyanowski. Now little Kevin is wrapping up 5th grade and Mr. DeBoer, his teacher, is more than happy to see him go. Kevin has been nothing but a pain in the butt all year and Mr. DeBoer would hold him back if he could. However, there are only 3 teachers in the 5th grade, including himself, so he would have a 33% chance of getting him back and that is a risk he is unwilling to take. Kevin must go.


But to who? Think of the power the person assigning Kevin for the upcoming year has – knowing that whoever lands this draft choice is going to contemplate early retirement. I don’t know how they do it anymore, but I remember as a child when my dad would get his class list and look over it for the first time.


It usually started with a grunt, followed by another sound of disgust, then a couple choice words and if it were going to be a particularly bad class, it ended with him storming out the door, cigarettes in hand, saying the Lord’s name in way he wouldn’t say it on Sunday.

Dissecting it, I can see where the weight of knowing you have a Kevin Boyanowski assigned to you for 9 months would feel like a prison term or a trip to rehab.


But back to the event at hand, the 8th grade certification ceremony. I cannot properly capture my level of excitement about being able to wear a sport coat in 90* weather, sit on aluminum benches, for the opportunity to see our son “certified”. I associate being certified with the end of something. Something achieved in order to move on to the next chapter of life, so in this instance I guess it would be 9th grade. Can you do anything with an 8th grade certificate? Maybe it allows you to run the milkshake machine at Chick-Fil-A but it must remain properly displayed at all times.


I could even understand if it meant you were leaving this building behind in order to go to the big dance, the show, the school of higher learning, but it’s all on one campus. Maybe the bathrooms are upgraded, and the water fountains are a little colder in temperature. Do they even have water fountains anymore?


One thing I did learn is that this event is much too important for me to have any input on our son’s attire. Oh, I was given a chance to pitch in, but when I returned the first time with a solid black suit, white shirt, and thin black tie, I was given a talking to and reminded he shouldn’t look like he’s going to a funeral or getting ready to whack someone.


On the way to return the suit, the attire parameters were changed by the school and a massive alert was sent out to all the parents. No longer would jackets be required due to the excessive heat forecasted and word was passed down that dress shorts had been approved in a secret meeting.


That was in my wheelhouse and I felt confident returning to South Park mall in search of dress shorts and a collared shirt. However, the next curve ball came when Chandler said he wanted to dress up a little and wear pants and a button down. Still in my wheelhouse – all I had to do was think church clothes. Got it. Tammy had already requested khaki pants and a navy-blue blazer, so I did what I thought was best and bought pants that look lavender in the right light. I’ll see you soon South Park mall.


Yes, my fashion card has been revoked and if you were lucky enough to see me at the ceremony, know my wife picked out my clothes…..but not my Skechers.


Speaking of the ceremony, it was lovely. Our son goes to a private school but ended up taking the majority of his 8th grade year from a computer. The pandemic, plus filming in Toronto for 3 months meant we had the pleasure of paying for a school he only saw on a screen.


During the ceremony I gave in to a rare bout of bitterness and found myself saying “Cha-Ching” every time they handed out a certificate. In fact, I think the certificate allows the student’s parents to pay a higher tuition next year. I’ll need to read the fine print.


I’ve only felt this excited a few times in my life. The last time was when we took a trip to Disney World and were lucky enough to pay extremely high prices to stand in extremely long lines to ride 45-second rides. Now that was fun.


In all seriousness, congrats to our son, and to all the other ecstatic 8th graders on achieving something most kids only dream of, permission to attend 9th grade. Just watch out for the Kevin’s…


Until Tomorrow…Little People

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