The Last Week of School

The jasmine, honeysuckle, other vines and bushes are flowering with dizzying sweetness. That harder-to-identify breeze is a collective sigh of relief heard across the land: “We made it through another school year!”

In November, first or third or fifth grade seemed interminable. Now, children have sprouted another foot or two, and walk confidently into class because they know the routine. (It’s only their addled grammy who dreads confusing Crazy Hair Event with Fancy Dress Day.) Their teachers deserve a brass band marching up the hill to school, serenading them all as the superintendent bestows plentiful raises and prodigious bouquets.

The day-in, day-out work of elementary schools is seldom applauded, but how miraculous it is when a class of varying first languages and ethnic backgrounds enters with chins lifted in anticipation. They can sniff some interesting potential here… And they walk out able to read, divide, draw, sing, write, subtract, and more or less get along with each other. Such formidable achievements from such small people!

Don’t forget their entourage of support staff: the cafeteria cooks, crossing guards, school secretaries who keep track of sick kids and lost lunches, aides, bus drivers, principals, parent-teacher associations and bedraggled dads who every morning, haul the scooter and helmet back home. Kudos too to the grandparents wearing saris, burkas, hijabs or turbans who bring their little ones into an environment which must seem utterly strange, yet do so with high expectations. Maybe they’ve not yet mastered all the American customs or nuances of English, but odds are great and hopes are high this child will. And some fortunate native speakers will leave with some newly acquired fluency in Mandarin or Spanish.

For those who haven’t been part of the school scene recently, it’s worth a stroll down a block or two simply to observe this quiet phenomenon. Not to idealize that all schools work miracles, but many do, and the daily procession in and out is worth watching to gain a wee dose of gratitude or joy. As the academic year winds down, some achievements are surely worth celebrating.

2 responses to “The Last Week of School

  1. Wonderful, thank you!

  2. Terrance Kelly

    Sending this off to our daughter Beth, Denver Public Schools Special Ed teacher at Maxwell Elementary in Montbello neighborhood. Thanks, Kathy.

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