Sit in the chair and let’s graduate | Living with Gleigh

“Sit in the chair, don’t stand; sit in the chair, don’t stand.” I so miss the days when my children were small and that mantra was the most complicated thing I needed to relay to them: “Don’t stand on chairs.”

Now my oldest daughter is a senior and she is winding down her high school career. My mantra has now become, “How’s your culminating project coming?” Every day for the past six months, I’ve been asking her this; pushing her towards this “culmination” of high school.

No matter if I question the value of the culminating project – it seems like extra busy work to me – or if I disagree with the way is has been (or not been) presented, she must complete this to graduate.

Not only do I long for the days when my mantra to her was to simply sit in the chair, but I long for the simplicity of my own high school days. It seems the further along in history our world comes, the more complicated our tasks become. When I was in school, we simply had to pass four years of high school and some state testing; then we graduated.

I like the idea of preparing our teens for life after graduation, which I believe is what the culminating project is about. But if that’s what we are striving for – to teach them how to navigate the world after graduation with resumes and applications – then shouldn’t the school work on teaching them those things they are demanding of them?

As a parent, I am here to encourage my children to look at “life after high school.” But when life in high school adds additional work, I don’t see the point. The reality is, high school is not reality. I know when my daughter starts her first year of college, she’ll be shocked to learn that there are no late arrival days in real life: “No Virginia, there is no late arrival, no “teacher workshop” day off a month, and no half days. In other words, you will have to go to school EVERY DAY!”

My daughter is coming along with the culminating project at my constant urging and doing it well. I never questioned her ability, but as with many teens, time and organization are not her strong suits. But I am determined enough for both of us for her to get this done.

I know when she finally finishes the last three things on the list: an application, resume and cover letter, she will bonk herself in the head that it was so easy. She’ll wish she had done it long ago.

I have told her she owes it to herself and to her advisory teacher to get it in earlier than the May 1st deadline. Apparently, so many kids turn the culminating projects in at the last minute that it crashes the system every year (everything is turned in online). Plus, my daughter is playing with the after-school symphony in her high school’s spring musical and she will be busy enough very soon.

So this weekend I have decided is the culmination of the culminating project for my daughter. I am tired of wondering about it, tired of asking about it, tired of being the only one stressing about it (of course, these are my personal issues which my daughter obviously does not share).

I will take her by the hand and sit in front of the computer with her as she fills out the remainder of the forms. I will advise, supervise and instruct until it is complete and turned in to her advisor for approval.

Yes, this is the culmination of the culminating project! “Sit in the chair and let’s GRADUATE!”


Gretchen Leigh is a stay-at-home mom who lives in Covington. She is determined her daughter will graduate on time. You can also read more of her writing and her daily blog on her website or on Facebook at “Living with Gleigh.” Her column is available every week under the Lifestyles section.

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