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June 13, 2016  |  School's out ... forever?  |  3712 hit(s)

In September 1991, my son stood in front of the Hartwell village school outside Northampton, England, clutching his Thomas the Tank Engine lunchbox. He was a "rising 5," ready to start the academic journey for our kids' generation.

This last Saturday we celebrated two graduations—one for my wife's older daughter, who just finished college, and one for her younger daughter, who just finished high school. In between, my kids went through high school and college (my son for two degrees), and my wife got a master's degree, and her kids went through high school and one through college, and my daughter-in-law finished not only college but medical school. (Me, my only matriculation was to take some extension classes.)

It occurred to me this weekend that for the first time since that day in 1991, no one in the immediate family is in school or is planning to be. After two and a half decades, our lives are no longer organized around the rhythm and protocols of school. We won't need to plan vacations around school breaks. There are no more report cards, or late-night homework sessions, or parent-teacher meetings, or term papers, or end-of-semester projects. No more emails and phone calls and texts from the school. No more permission slips. No more back-to-school shopping. No more standardized tests or SATs or GREs or board exams. No more college catalogs. No more tuition.

It's not as if there's no more school for anyone. My son now teaches high school, so of course his life is very much organized around school. And the likelihood is strong that the family's break from school won't last very long; the youngest has no college plans at the moment, but that's likely just to be a gap year (or years). And you never know which of us might decide that a little graduate school, or a little more, might be fun.

Still, at our house, Saturday marked the end of an era. For the time being, everyone is as educated as they want to be. It's been a vastly interesting (if sometimes stressful) enterprise. For now and for us, school is finally finished.

First day of school, September 1991

High school, June 2005

High school, June 2006

Bachelor of Music Performance, May 2010

Bachelor of Science, June 2010

Master of Science in Nursing, June 2011

High school, June 2012

Master in Teaching, June 2013

Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine, May 2016

Bachelor of Science, June 2016

High school, June 2016