I am continuously surprised by the knowledge and skills of children. Seriously.
In grade school at my practicum, only one of the girls followed the instructions on how to paint the grass exactly, leading to praise from the teacher. She was so happy.
The 6th graders were even more impressive. Her first group had a choice project at the end of the trimester, with which they chose what they made. one student constructed a whole bridge out of paper straws. in her second group, One boy discussed with me the logistics of creating a hover board. This boy also reads Stephen King novels and knows what he wants to do when he grows up (either be a body piercer or own a bike shop).
In the high school classes, one of the girls is amazing at creating portraits. She can even mix odd colors together to make amazing results. Some of the other advanced students have also worked really hard at personalizing their own styles. A lot of these students have high hopes for their future. One senior refuses to work at her moms bar. She does not want to be stuck in a small town her whole life, and although small towns do have their charms, I agree that it is important to get out from under a parents wing and explore the world.
These students have hopes and dreams, and it was amazing to watch them grow.