Wednesday, May 18, 2005
Assembling in the upper school yard. (photo KP)
You know that scene in Finding Nemo when Marlin takes Nemo to school for the first time? Not the part about the Drop-Off, forget that. But the part where they show up to drop off Nemo, and all the parent fish are hanging out talking as their kids go over to join the school. That part.
Taking a kid to Henry in the morning is like that. Lots of kids streaming into the schoolyard from all corners. Some kids are jumping Double Dutch by the stairs, others are racing by the fence, others are dutifully anticipating the call to assemble. And parents scattered throughout - some are spending a final few minutes with their kids, some are talking to the groups of kids that inevitably gather around them, while others are congregating in small groups to talk about a run to Infusion for a hit of caffeine on the way to work.
Throughout the year, the entire school starts off the day by assembling in the school yard on nice-weather days. Starting the day with everyone there - kids, teachers, parents, little bothers and sisters - helps create a sense of community. I meet the kids that my son talks about. I meet many of their parents - some I see most mornings, some every once in a while.
Dropping off our son at school is an immersion in community. I get hugs from Shelby, high-fives from Rondell, and the morning report on who's being unfair to Sean - all while my son is running foot races with kids ranging from kindergarten to fourth graders. I talk to one father about the bike ride coming up this weekend, to another about how the sound system makes the morning announcements sound like they're coming from an adult in Peanuts, and to a mom about the opera she's in at the moment.
After the teachers take the kids inside to start class, there are usually a couple of huddles of parents who don't have to rush off to work, talking about the upcoming fundraiser, the PSSA or Terra Nova tests or results, the Home & School meeting, or the school play. I am one of the parents who usually does have to rush off to work, but I often get a chance to say Hi and catch any important bullet points or get volunteered to write a letter to raise funds for the play.
Also after the kids go inside, the Principal is often out there long enough to talk about a problem or an opportunity. Plenty of times, I've caught her for a minute, and I feel I'm more rushed than she is.