Thursday, September 6, 2012

Lesson 183: Some Things Never Change

Happy Birthday, #51!

You made it, Clark School!

Tonight Eloise and family are headed to Clark Elementary School's 51st annual Open House.  Clark Elementary is the best little school in my hometown and has a history of beating the odds.  A couple of summers ago, the school won a nationwide Pepsi sponsored contest and received a class set of iPads.  It was quite a remarkable feat for such a small school.  Clark Elementary also survived a near fatal blow about a month ago--a vote by the school board to close it and consolidate with another school in my district.  It doesn't often happen that a community makes so much noise and school board members actually listen to all sides of an issue.  The vote last month went by way of the Clark School supporters and her doors remain open tonight.

Clark School is the elementary school I attended when I was five.  This is what I looked like in 1976:

A little bit like Sam, wouldn't you say?  He's a Kindergartner at Clark this year:

Ellen rules the school this year as a sixth grader, but this is her picture when she was in Kindergarten.

Sweet Natalie never had the chance to attend Clark.  Instead she went to a specialized school for children with autism.  I feel very blessed to have had the Barber National Institute right in my hometown.  They had a large part in Natalie's success today.  Here is her Kindergarten era photo.  It was too cute for me not to share.

Not much has changed about Clark School since I went there. Kindergarten is now full day instead of half day.  There are a couple of new additions around the building, but much remains the same.  It is built in a simple L shaped design with straight, polished tile hallways and square classrooms spaced evenly on either side.  No "pods".  No "docking stations".  No "family rooms."  Some of the classrooms even still have blackboards---with Smartboards mounted over them, of course.

Some of the faces are still there from when I walked the halls.  Miss May is still leading the chorus and Mrs. Long is still teaching little kids to read.  Mrs. Kaus is still housed in room 3-A and has the original desks.  Look!

The desk part is actually hinged and has a peg to put it up flat, or the peg can be taken out to give the desk a slant.  The round dark spot at the top is an ink well!

I have to head out early today because the parking lot will be packed.  Eloise needs to find a spot that I can swing wide into.  As sharp as my eyesight is, I still manage to park poorly, boxing people in unbeknownst to me.  I run over curbs and those stupid cement stopper things in parking lots all the time.  I've hit more mailboxes and garbage cans than I care to count.  I'll use this blog as my tool for a public apology to the Fife and Hess families.  I've scraped your mailboxes more times than the hundreds I've admitted to.  

Everyone comes to Clark's Open House, you see.  There is hardly a space to be found.  The kids are proud of their school and love showing Mom and Dad around.  The school centers around some themes that teachers focus on along with academics.  Posters full of these words hang on every solid wooden door in the school.  What parent wouldn't put up a fight for a school like this?  You'll see them in the blog video:

  • citizenship
  • fairness
  • trustworthiness
  • respect
  • responsibility
  • caring 
When I am there to greet my students and shake hands with Mommas and Poppas tonight, I am just saying hello to some old school friends of my own.  Lots of people in my town settle near where they grew up.  The coops we all dreamed of flooping as teenagers, became more appealing when we began to bear our own children.  Many of the parents I'll greet tonight sat in those desks right next to me.  We will smile when we greet each other and make exchanges about how fast time passes and how some things never change.

I made a photo display of some recent pictures, set to Tim McGraw's Some Things Never Change.  It is a great love song; one I feel guilty of not giving top billing to on my Summer Top Ten Tim McGraw Countdown Chart.  It rides on nearly every CD I make to pop in my car.  I love the lyrics and found them fitting tonight, for a school that I love, on it's 51st birthday.  A timeless tune for a time honored school.  Perfect.

It's not just my love for my children or my school or my hometown that never changes.  Some other things never change also, like my forgetfulness.  Here's a funny one:

Labor Day weekend I made an epic run.  I mentioned my unplanned run to Beach One in my last blog.  What I failed to mention was my typical airheadedness.  I got all the way out to the beach, called for my ride, and in my excitement, I left my entire pack on the beach. My mistake was realized about four hours later when Ellen asked for her iPod back.  WHOOPS.

Kenyan calls me a camel when I run.  Northern considers me a pack horse.  I just take comfort in having things with me in a belted fanny pack around my waist.  Here are some of the contents of that expensive fanny pack:

  • my favorite Thomas the Tank Engine water bottle
  • my school ID
  • money 
  • Kleenex--needed for a couple of things
  • Benedryl--never know when you could receive that near fatal sting
  • Fast acting aspirin--good to take if you have sudden chest pain
  • Extra ponytail holders--mine are known for snapping
  • dog biscuits--for the frothing hell hounds that live on the curve on my road
  • Expensive, organic, chewy things that are supposed to give you energy
  • $250 iPod touch with 1,000 songs on it and my mastered Zombie game
  • my phone
  • my slip proof, sweat proof, way too expensive but they work well, hook behind the ear, ear buds
Total purse to the finder of the purse:  Priceless!

With a pounding heart and racing brain, I loaded the three kids into the car and we headed back to the very place I hoofed it to that morning.  I must say the kids were impressed when I showed them how far Mommy ran.  And guess what we found on the washed up log on Beach One:

There was my pack, right where I left it.  Eloise was a very happy girl!

To the finders, I offered this reward:  Sara's ice cream cones.  Three twists were ordered about ten minutes later.  Sam of course took the money out of it, justifying it as his prize.  Natalie ate the rest of my organic chewy things that give you energy and was twitchy the rest of the afternoon (mental note: no energy chews for Natalie.  Ever.).

The rest of Labor Day was a series of errands around my town, preparing for the upcoming week.  On one of those little trips, as I was leaving my driveway, I noticed something.  A slight reflection in the passenger's side windshield.  Something was shoved between the hood of my car and the windshield---like where your wipers go down inside.  

I pulled to the side of the road and got out to investigate.  As I walked around the side of the van, I saw it was a can, with an apparent note shoved inside of it.  It was this can, the note is sticking out of the top:

Eloise was full of glee!  What!?!?!  A ROCKSTAR can....for me!?!?!  With a NOTE inside!?!?!   Whatever could this mean!?!?  Holy cow!?!?  Who knew that Feelin' Like A Rockstar was my favorite Tim McGraw song of the summer?!?!?!  Was it Tim McGraw's van driver Jim tracking me down, saying Tim missed me at the Boston show!?!?!?!  A secret admirer, perhaps?!?!?!

With a pounding heart, I wiggled the can out of it's nestled hiding spot, gently unfolding the rolled up note.  Here it is:

Romantic fantasy comes to a screeching halt:  Some things never change.

And while speaking of unexpected messages, look what was spray painted on the side of a storage trailer at a furniture shop near the "underpass" (locals will know of what Eloise speaks).  It also appeared this weekend and I am certain it was meant for me:

Here's the way-long shot to help my friends who have flooped the coop remember the spot:

Here it is a little closer:

Here's the message I know was meant for me:

Geeez, Friend.  I know you were home last weekend and we never got the chance to connect, but you didn't have to take such risks to let me know you love me.  I miss you, too, Red.  Love, Andy

Enjoy your video.  Especially if you are a Clark School Student or Alumni.  I didn't think we'd ever make it to #51, but we did.  Some things never change.


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