Walking the Beam
Since 1999, Forsyth sixth graders have ascended the high beam, walked across it and left a message in the journal for their Little Friends or younger siblings. It’s a graduation rite of passage at Forsyth, and a big component of the challenge education program. Challenge Days in Senior-Kindergarten through Grade 5, along with the camping trips in Grades 5 and 6, prepare the children for the high beam experience. When the sixth graders walk the beam, only their class is present. At the end-of-year all-School assembly, we celebrate Forsyth graduates in sixth grade and Forsyth alumni, who are now high school seniors, with a high beam demonstration in front of the whole school. Below are some excerpts from sixth grade journals about their high beam experience.
FROM THE GRADUATES
I Did It
When I first came to Forsyth, I was six years old. A month into my first year, somebody told me about the beam. Later in P.E. it was pointed out. Every day from then on, I would look at the beam and be excited. It has been almost seven years since then, and now I was getting ready to do what had always been a ‘must do’ to me. After moving through the high ropes course, I was on my way up to the beam. . . . As I was coming down, I kept hearing myself whispering, ‘I did it, I did it, I did it.’
It was finally my turn to do what every kid in the school looks forward to, and I had butterflies in my stomach. This certainly wasn’t the way I imagined it. I got tied into the belay rope, and went up relatively quickly. When I was up there my legs were shaking really badly, and I kept on thinking, ‘what if I fall?’ I started walking across the beam feeling like I was sinking. When I got to the end, I was relieved, and I signed a note to my little friends. Then, I faced a new fear: going off the side of the beam. I closed my eyes, sat back, and started going down. When I reached the ground, I was overjoyed that I had done it. I’m so proud of me!
It seems odd that one day someone had the idea to propel themselves to the ceiling of a large building using only a rope and a garment that looks like someone’s oversized underwear. Regardless of all of this, I did the same about a week ago. The beam that you walk on seems much wider than expected. When you cross it, or rather if you cross it, there is a book waiting for you. You write your name and what you’re thankful for, and really it’s a lot like Thanksgiving. If you’re like me, you were too nervous so you forgot to read what one of your sisters wrote to you when she walked the beam. If you’re like the person holding the rope that could save my life, you forgot that you were holding me, and I had to scream your name for 5 minutes to get your attention. But all in all, it was a great experience that I will try to never forget.
Walking the Beam
As she slipped into the harness and prepared herself for take-off she knew she would only experience this once in her life, and she should make the best of it if she wants to remember it as a good experience. She hastily spit her commands at Mr. Paradise eagerly waiting to be lifted off the ground. ‘One, two, three, PULL!’ The girl hoisted herself to the tip of the legendary Forsyth beam and stretched her legs out straight yet a tad nervously. She was shaking. She had dreamed of this moment since second grade, and it was happening. She was feeling her dream in reality. It felt even better. She walked confidently right to the other end of the beam. Then she finally had the chance to open the sacred book of all the other sixth graders who had ever gone to Forsyth. She flipped page after page until she at last found her brother’s handwriting scribbled on the page. She read it slowly and carefully, it was the standard good luck and good job type of letter, but as corny as it might have been it was better than nothing, so she was happy. Then it was over. She was on her way down in the blink of an eye. The first to greet her was Mr. Paradise, then came the paparazzi, and then she was done. She was sad that she could not deny that the year was coming to an end, but she was happy to have all the hustle and bustle done. She would always remember walking the beam.