A Father's Journal / "Transitions"

When my oldest daughter, Caroline, was very small, we would drive by Mill Hill Elementary school. We would look at all the first and second graders and we would marvel how big and mature they were. I said, "Someday, Caroline, when you get bigger, you will go to Mill Hill school, and you will be a kindergartner."

This year, my youngest, Julia, will graduate from fifth grade at Mill Hill and Caroline will leave eighth grade for high school.

Both girls wanted to write about their transitions.


Leaving Mill Hill is going to be hard. Mrs.Grigg was my teacher in kindergarten. I still remember Twinkle the class "pet." Twinkle was a stuffed pig that each kid got for a weekend. I brought Twinkle swimming in a plastic bag, and I even brought Twinkle to a Bat Mitzvah.

In first grade. I had Mrs. Johnson. At first, I thought Mrs. Johnson was mean and I was very rude to her. I'm sorry I behaved that way. I ended up loving first grade.

In second grade, Mrs.Gaughan taught me many valuable lessons. She taught me to love rocks and gems.

In third grade, Mrs.Crossley taught me math skills which come in handy now! Like the multiplication songs. I loved third grade, especially the Asian project.

My fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Pryde, was very sweet. Sometimes she would get tears in her eyes when she read something sad like the book Fig Pudding.

For fifth grade, I have Mr. Shire. Mr. Shire can brighten up my day with a smile. So far, we have done a lot of fun projects about the Civil War and immigration. We are now working on Invention Convention. Fifth grade is going by way too fast.

I just want to thank some other people before I leave Mill Hill:

Mrs. Skultety has been there for me since kindergarten. She is awesome.

Mr. Saunders helped me a lot in first grade.

Mrs. McCarthy, the school nurse, helped me with my injuries and some other problems.

Coach John was my baseball coach. He gave me things to say like, "I play baseball with the boys."

Mrs. Carlson always gives me a smile.

Mr. Albright is so kind. At first, I wasn't sure how to play cello and now I am a better player. He is the best orchestra teacher.

When I leave Mill Hill and go to Tomlinson Middle School, I will not forget any of these teachers. Goodbye, Mill Hill.


Caroline, always the big sister, chose to provide advice to her little sister.

Dear Julia,

It's a big jump to middle school. I have some random advice for you and your friends. The main change is that there is a huge improvement in the lunch choices from elementary. Here are also a few specifics to help your transition.

If you have Mrs. Zint, don't lean back in your chair. Ms. Walker hates clicky pens and gum. She will throw your pen out the window. I've seen it happen.

Cooking class is fun. I liked the banana fritatta. In computer class, when the teacher isn't looking, type looking down at the keyboard. Everybody does it. No matter how boring orchestra may seem sometimes, it's fun especially the concerts.

If your friend "forgot" her locker combo, don't let her share a locker with you until she remembers it. If you can't say no, set a limit on how long she can share a locker with you. My friend shared a locker with me for a good part of the first quarter. Also make sure mom gets you a locker shelf. It almost doubles your space.

Don't eat lunch with your friends in the courtyard, no matter how tempting it is. You will get caught. If you want hot food, the microwave in the teachers lounge works.

The Washington, D.C., trip was awesome. Go to the eighth grade dance, it's worth the $5! At the dance, we watched a slideshow of photos from sixth to eighth grade. There was lots of cheering and laughing.

Once a Thunderbird, always a Thunderbird. Good luck Julia. I'll miss you, Tomlinson.

Thomas Lawlor lives in Southport with his lovely bride and two daughters. His day job is at M Communications in Stamford. He can be reached at tlawlor@mcommunications.com.