Thursday, May 29, 2008

School's Out

Field Trip To Houston

8" x 10"


"School's out! School's out! Teacher let the mules out!"

Shouts rang out and echoed all through the three story school building, all the way down the sidewalk, and down Burnett Street, all the way to homes and downtown as soon as the final bell rang at Calvert High. Everyone waited quietly, hearts pounding with excitement, waiting to hear that ear-splitting bell ring for the last time of the year.

It was hot, as if Mother Nature knew that, when school was out, it was summer, no matter what officials who made up the calendar said.

Teachers worked quitely, sorting papers, while the students sat at their desks, still not allowed to talk.

When that bell finally did ring, there was just a moments hesitation as students wondered if the teacher would insist on dismissing them that day, as usual, or would it be okay to just break out and run.

It didn't take long for the flood of papers, kept so carefully during the year, to line the street, all the way from the front door of the school to town. (Of course, some people were proud of their work and kept it in their notebooks, and others were just plain scared to make a mess like that!)

People who lived in the houses along the street didn't look forward to this last day and the mess that they were left with in their yards.

George and the trash truck would soon come along and George would be sweeping with his wide broom, collecting the paper and throwing it into the back of the big, rounded truck. Of course, since he was also the janitor at school, he would be left to clean all that up, too. But, he always did it quietly, and with a little smile, just tolerating all those kids over the years.

With only one older man to take care of the school building, the grounds, and collect trash for the town, it's amazing to think how clean and well kept everything was.

Since he was older, and they probably couldn't get anyone else to do as much for as little pay as they gave George, I think that his afternoon naps down in the boiler room, were also tolerated.

During the time of WWII, wasting anything was not good, and paper, like everything else was used wisely, and recycled for the War Effort. There probably was not the ritual blizzrd of throwing all the year's school work to the wind after the final bell, during those years. Since I was in elementary school then, we didn't have a massive build up of papers that we had to keep all year, like we did in classes like Mrs. Brannon's English class in high school.

From the other side of the desk, the teachers would be just as anxious for that last bell as the students, but they couldn't show it. (Although I have known teachers who evacuated the building as fast as, or even ahead of, the students!) Usually, though, they had more days of work ahead of them, winding up the year and getting ready for the next.

The above drawing is from my sketchbook, and shows one trip that I took to the Houston Zoo with my oldest grandson's class a few years back. His teacher sat behind me, sideways, and talked to the teacher across the aisle from her. (Good thing that the bus didn't have to stop suddenly or she might have been in the floor, or in the front through the windshield!)

I thought that trip might make a good little story. The little boy across the aisle from me spent most of the trip, staring at me, except for the time that he fell asleep.

One thing that stands out in my mind about that trip was how miserably hot it was on the, supposedly, air conditioned buses. It was like a steam bath in there. We finally opened some windows to get a little air, but the bus driver told us not to do that. Some of us toward the back cheated and kept the window open a crack to get a little fresh air. Everyone was miserable. A lot of kids took a nap, with sweat dampening their hair. I thought I was going to pass out! The air conditioning only seemed to be putting out humidity, like one of those water cooled fans that we used to have. (Didn't work too well in our high humidity!) I think they had the temperature set, really high. The bus driver's area seemed comfortable, but the rest of the bus was not.

The picture shows how it was in the morning, on the way to the city, before it got so terribly hot.

I hope that you have some good field trip memories, and some good memories from school, especially fresh ones, if you are winding up your school year.

For this year, I remember getting up early to make breakfast for my grandson as the sun rose, then started painting after I wished him well and he rushed off to school that day.

I remember struggling to make decent French Toast, and burning cinnamon toast, and undercooking regular toast. We tried oatmeal and various things, until there was a period when he didn't want to eat anything in the morning. He was too nervous about going off to school.

There were nights of listening to him read and discussing stories with him, of sitting with him while he wrote multiplication tables and spelling words, or filled out papers, and of going over cards with famous artists and information about them as he prepared for Picture Memory at UIL. I thought that it might help if I wrote those multiplication tables with him, so I wrote them too. ( I still have to look up some of them! I'll never learn those things! My system of counting dots, which formed shapes or patterns, got me through.)

Sometimes children remember by hearing things, so I tried to be sure that he heard things, as well as being able to see them.

There were nights of working on special projects, more recently of making a poster and doing research about George Washington and looking for pictures of people in my grandson's family who looked like him. (Good thing that I have scanned all these family pictures as I work on family history or he wouldn't have had any family pictures to take to school!)

He was excited to get the recorder in music class, that they will use next year, and listen to him play the notes of the first song that they learned, "Hot Cross Buns".

There was anticipation of the 4th grade music program of Celtic music, just after St. Patrick's Day, that we looked forward to for months.

And looking at all those papers that he brought home each day, and going over them with him. Of hearing about the HOSTS person that met with him and looking at the stamps and stickers that my grandson got with him.

And hearing about their field trips to Sam Houston's home in Huntsville, and the symphony at A&M.

I've tried to sit with him, and let him talk , and reassure him, about his uncertainty about going to school each day. (I was like that too, I guess.) We've looked for good things and friends.

I saw the disappointment in him when the school had the students sell things, and he couldn't participate. And that's a sore spot with me. Having children go out and sell junky items to make money for the school is just a no-no. So unfair to kids who don't have anyone to sell to, who don't have money, and it's also dangerous. Many people just don't have the money to buy that sort of thing. The school should be providing the money for the students. If they belong to an organization that wants to do something like a bake sale at a store, that is one thing. Working as a group is okay, for some club, but putting out prizes that kids can't possibly earn is really wrong.

We don't buy those things ourselves, and don't know anyone who will. And, he is not allowed to just go around to strangers and try to sell them something. So, it is an impossible situation.

Adminstrators could do with less fancy offices and equipment, and lower pay, and that sort of thing, or they should do their jobs and go out and find the money that they need for the schools and the children.

We have ended another year when the students didn't learn to write. The teachers don't have time to teach those necessary skills because they are too busy with the TAKS test. So, I plan to be teaching calligraphy/handwriting this summer. That is the same method that we used to learn to write. And high school and college teachers wonder why kids can't write! It shouldn't be left to the parents to teach children how to write. Many of them can't do it, or don't have the time. But, it looks like that is the only way that kids are going to learn how to write, these days.

Hope that you have some wonderful plans for summer, which starts tomorrow here!

With high prices on everything, a lot of people may do what we do , this year. Stay at home and try to keep costs down! I can always find a lot to do around home. Just as long as we have plenty of paper, pencils, some glue, colors, paint, and the internet!


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Look at my sidebar to see some upcoming events. The Texas Scottish Festival is right around the corner. And, we're thinking ahead to the 19th World Wide Sketch Crawl on Saturday June 21!


1 comment:

Sweetwater Designs said...

What lovely was a different time for sure. There was only one custodian at our school as well. The garbage was incinerated on Friday afternoons and to this day the smell of burning in the spring takes me back to Fridays waiting for the bus at the end of the day.