“Ashira!” My class concludes. This is the graduation night that I had been dreading. After tonight, I won’t be an Akiva student anymore. Akiva is a school, but to me it's more than that. It is the place that I had, and still do, feel most secure. I went to Akiva from 2nd grade to 6th grade. In the beginning, I was completely new. Now, everyone knows my name. I look over at Zevi for the cue to start. We all share our favorite Akiva memories like how in 5th grade there was a contest to see who could fit all of their fingers in a goat's mouth or how in 2nd grade Ruvi jumped out the window. It felt like taking a deep breath, reflecting on my favorite memories at Akiva. “I loved being Co-Cheer Captain and Co-President with Sylvie,'' I said during the presentation. I locked eyes with Ms. Holten, trying not to cry. I step back and someone else talks.
We finish the speech and step off of the stage. Rabba Daniella states that she is going to give a Bracha, or a small speech to each of us. As per usual, I’m up first. She calls me up and I feel the heat of the spotlights from the stage. She says, “Lyla, - I remember you sitting on the carpet in 2nd grade, eyes big and eager to learn.” I blank out from what she is saying, and I start thinking about how lucky I am to have gone to Akiva for five years of my life. She then gives me a hug and I sit down.
This is the part we didn’t rehearse. Morah Daniella calls to all of us that we will be walking across the stage giving high-fives to all of my teachers and getting a certificate. My heart is pounding now because I know that this will make me cry. We line up behind the stage. “Lyla Banish” I hear my name and slowly walk across the stage. I see the faces of all of the people that helped me throughout the years. I see Mrs. Smyth who was my first teacher at Akiva. I see Ms. Love who helped me learn about my creative side. I see Ms. Holten who made me believe in myself, and I see Morah Daniella and Ms. Julie who have helped me in more ways than I can count. I grab my certificate and walk off the stage. I freeze as I’m walking down the stairs, just looking at the certificate. “Wow,” I say, “Just wow.” I feel my eyes start to dwell as one thought pops into my mind.
“You aren’t an Akiva student anymore.” Over and over again it plays in my head. I cry and go sit down. “You aren’t an Akiva student anymore.”
I go sit back down with the rest of my classmates and watch everyone clap for us. It was now time for the party. There was a hint of sugar in the air, and I quickly found the source. There was a cotton candy machine, a candy table, and lots of snacks. Despite all of this, the first thing I did was take a picture with my family by the photo booth. After what seemed like forever, I looked over to see all of my fifth grade friends crying for us. It was so sweet.
The night was coming to an end, and I hugged all of my friends and teachers. As I was with each teacher, I realized a few things. I realized that even though I’m not an Akiva student any more, I will always be a part of the Akiva family. I know that I will always come back to that school.