Monday, September 05, 2005
Up in the mornin' and out to school
The teacher is teachin' the Golden Rule
American history and practical math
You study' em hard and hopin' to pass
Workin' your fingers right down to the bone*
And so another school year begins this week. Earlier bed-times. Earlier mornings. Homework. The daily battle over the school uniform. The daily battle to get out of the house on time. The daily battle over what to pack for lunch.
Assembling the entire school community in the school yard for morning announcements. Talking to parents about day camp, vacation, poison ivy, getting back to normal, new teachers...
Ring ring goes the bell
The cook in the lunchroom's ready to sell
You're lucky if you can find a seat
You're fortunate if you have time to eat
Back in the classroom open you books
Gee but the teacher don't know
How mean she looks*
The noisy lunchroom. The questionable nutritional value of the free and reduced price breakfasts and lunches available to kids who need them. The new music grant and program. The need for more classroom computers. The auditorium acoustics. The shrinking district budget that translates into a shrinking school budget. The Principal's loss of a reliable assistant. The new science curriculum. The schoolyard upgrade. Standardized testing. The gifted program. The new after school enrichment program.
How amazingly lucky are our kids. They get to lay awake in bed Monday night, too excited to go to sleep because Tuesday they start a new grade. A Big Kids' grade. They get to walk into the school yard, Tuesday morning, to see friends they haven't seen since June. They get to enjoy the embrace of last year's teachers, welcoming them back home, to their school. They get to feel the queasy excitement of walking into a new classroom, with a new teacher, to start a new journey that they're not entirely sure they can anticipate. They get to talk through the Principal's annoucements. Stand with hands over hearts to the Pledge of a-Blah Blah. For most of our kids, those who care for them are still there in the morning, still home at night. For most of our kids, their family and friends are still nearby, safe, and accessible. What a world of difference from the kids of southern Louisiana and surrounding areas.
As for the kids whose lives have been disrupted by Katrina, Henry is accepting donations, preferably as checks payable to The American Red Cross, to help recovery in the affected areas.
*Lyrics from "School Days," by Chuck Berry. www.chuckberry.com