We all waited, with baited breath, for sixth grade. In sixth grade you were part of the “Laugh-In” board in the Spring Revue. You were chosen to go Christmas Caroling, arriving at school at 5:00 AM, bundled up for the cold, and walk to the three nearby neighborhoods ( including mine) to sing Carols to all of the early risers, most of them waiting anxiously at the window because the Stanton Elementary Christmas Carol Sing was well known in our town. They handed out cookies and candy canes and the sixth grade chorus then walked back to school, arriving by 7:30 or so and had hot cocoa that the lunch ladies had come in early to prepare. In sixth grade you were able to walk up the hill to “look at” the Junior High School that you would be attending next year. Sixth grade was the best, the top of the crop, success!
But it all paled in comparison to the hoopla that surrounded the fifth grade as they prepared for May Day. You see, in fifth grade all the girls and boys fretted all year about whether they would be picked to dance the May Pole. Now, in reality, we all knew who would be picked. The “in” kids, the prettiest girls and coolest boys — and as early as fourth grade we all began planning how we would make it into that clique.
I still remember my dress, the lavender ribbon that I had been chosen to weave into the intricate pole . I remember my bff Terry standing three girls ahead, and Danny standing tough and proud in the boys inner circle. We practiced that maypole dance for weeks. They put old ugly cotton streamers on the pole for practice, and we wove in and out, in and out, dancing with the music, until we figured out the rhythm of the routine. Every recess for the whole month of April was spent dancing the Maypole. The actual day was bigger than high school graduation as far as we were concerned…the Pole was bedecked in pastel ribbons that had magically appeared the night before. The music speakers were positioned just right, the principal was in his best suit, we looked like candidates for “toddlers and tiaras” and we danced. We DANCED. The crowd ( and there was a CROWD, parents, big sisters, grandparents….) clapped and “woo hoo”ed as we finished, crunched tightly against the pole, exhilarant in our success. Punch and cookies followed. Pictures by the pole. And then math class. It was over. No more practice, no more weaving….
Ah, but sixth grade was waiting….