Monday, August 25, 2008
First day of school
I don't know a teacher who wouldn't like to say this to a parent, just once.
Today is the first day of school in our school district, all 100 schools, 65,000 kids, all with butterflies in their stomachs, or like me, with cramps in their guts. Jeez, adding it all up, my years as a student and my years working for the school district I'm up around 45 years of the first day school experience. You'd think I'd be more used to it by now.
In our town today the thermometer is about 95 degrees or more. Most of our schools aren't air conditioned; only the year-round schools have it. So our kids in the older, traditional buildings will be sweltering in their new clothes and new shoes.
That reminds me. I didn't get my back-to-school shopping done this year. Wow, how can I stand it wearing last year's shoes? Oh, the shame.
I'll be interested to see how my old junior high school does on its first day. The school burned down three years ago, and has been rebuilt. Well, maybe that's optimistic. It's been under construction, and the past two months the construction has gone on night and day, seven days a week. I'm sure the neighbors are about goofy from the sound of construction equipment. When I visited the school last week to help set up their internal mail delivery, I noticed construction guys everywhere. The contractor said he lost half his work days last winter with the bad weather, and they have been trying to make it up, but a building this size goes up in its own time. You can't hurry love and you can't hurry construction. We don't want it falling down on the kids, now do we?
The school has been double-bunking with another junior high for three years. There are students who are going on to high school this year who spent their whole time as a student of this school under the roof of another. They will never know either the old building or this new one. They are kind of the falling-between-the-cracks kids. Displaced persons, refugees. In July, 2005 a fire started in a computer, and the principal tried to put it out but the fire quickly got out of control. I went home only to watch the TV news and see live helicopter shots of my old school in flames. Not only did I attend the school nearly fifty years ago, I've been its school district mail person for 32 years. To say I have some sort of emotional investment in that school is an understatement.
I'm glad to see it re-opening, bigger and better than before. In all of my years as a student and as an employee--in all 102 years of the school district where I work, as a matter of fact--it's the only time a kid's dream came true, and the school burned down. The principal and staff have worked hard under extreme pressure. When I think back on my career after I retire I'll remember this man and his staff and remember what they did. He didn't get paid a dime extra, but I'll bet his working hours doubled over the past three years. It's that sort of dedication, that sort of professionalism, in the face of district and public politics and lost construction days, that make me respect these folks so much.
I usually don't name people in this blog because I don't want them googling their names and coming up with this blog, since I do it under a pseudonym. What I want to say to Principal Doug B., vice-principal Dr. Shauna M, and custodian Jay D., as well as the rest of the staff and teachers, good luck to you today and this alumnus will be wishing you good luck on your new school re-opening.