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The school years fly by, but the Bush era is slow as molasses
Elementary school ends, but the Democrats fight on.

 President Bush listens to questions during a 2007 press conference. His second term ends in January of next year.
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Date published: 5/18/2008

By Richard Amrhine

RIDDLE: WHAT occurs right before your eyes, but you never really see it happen?

Answer: Your kids grow up.

We say goodbye to Courtland Elementary School this spring, as our second child completes fifth grade and moves on to middle school in the fall. It will be a sentimental parting, considering the memories that both the kids and we parents will take with us.

We're lucky to have been part of the Courtland Cub family. I'm sure many other families in Spotsylvania and everywhere else can reflect positively on their kids' elementary school experiences. But it's Courtland that we'll recall and smile about.

Welcoming smiles from talented teachers and administrators have always greeted me, as have hallways and classrooms full of engaged kids--exuberant and free-to-be-happy kids.

Children today face increasing pressure to grow up quickly, bombarded by mature messages and images that are virtually impossible for even the most careful parent to police. That makes elementary school more important than ever in establishing the foundation on which young students build their futures, academically and socially.

This summary from the Harvard Family Research Project sums it up well:

"During their elementary school years, children undergo important developmental changes. Their reasoning becomes more logical, their attention gets more adaptable, their perspective-taking grows more sophisticated, and their reading and math skills blossom.

"Throughout elementary school, children begin to integrate knowledge from interactions with teachers, peers, and families in order to construct identities based on their understanding of what they are good at and capable of doing."

This is at least what one would hope would happen. But it doesn't always, and that is almost always because of a breakdown in one or more elements in the teamwork of home, school, and community that produces well-adjusted, unique individuals.

Our experience is that Courtland holds up its end of the bargain. But we also understood going in that the value you derive from the educational process depends upon what you're willing to put into it.

Much study is devoted to secondary schools and their success, or lack of it, in producing graduates who are prepared for life, whether that means work or college. But these students are faced with many other pressures and influences as they learn who they are and negotiate the awkward mix of social interaction and personal independence.

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