Snow day for Dad

February 19, 2009

We’re expecting another winter snowstorm today, but it’s not supposed to start until this afternoon.  As a result of their locations in the Board, D’Arcy’s school was closed, but the kids’ were not.  Alex was happy to go to school today because he had gym; Evan is not at all happy at the new school, so he was disappointed.  Until…  I suggested that since D’Arcy didn’t have school, would Evan like it if his father took my volunteering shift in his class this morning?  You should have seen the smile!!  I emailed his teacher right away and she was thrilled that Evan & D’Arcy would have that opportunity to spend some time together in school.  (And obviously, the school board has his criminal record check, etc. on file!)

Sarah still wanted her grandmother to take her to pre-school this morning but conceded that D’Arcy could pick her up when it’s over.  So for the moment, it’s just Olivia & I, as usual for Thursday morning.  

I’m looking forward to having him home this afternoon so that I can head out to run some errands by myself and he can look after the kids while he catches up on school work.  This is my kind of snow day!

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Role Reversal

January 14, 2009

D’Arcy’s presentation went well, but took longer than he thought it would.  He was there from 6:30 – 8:45.  By the time he got home from Antigonish around 10:30, then made the changes they suggested, it was 1:30 am before he came to bed.  Needless to say, he was relieved to hear that it is a storm day today, so no school.

The storm didn’t pan out to be what they had expected, but the temperature is hovering around the freezing mark, it’s raining, and apparently the roads are quite slippery.  Evan & Alex were quite disappointed; the new school is still a big adventure to them and today would have been Evan’s first day of gym.  He brought home a form yesterday for intramurals, so we’ll add one more thing to the schedule!

I have a Board meeting in Halifax today, so D’Arcy gets to stay home with the four kids and be stay-at-home Dad.  I’m renting a car, so will leave in about an hour so I can take my time getting there safely.

New School Observations

January 11, 2009

I bundled the girls up on Friday afternoon and we walked down to meet the bus bringing the boys home after school.  It arrived right on time, and Evan got off first.  All the moms were asking as each child got off, “So how was it?”  Evan, being the more discerning of our two boys, answered, “Good – but Willow Street was better!”  Alex’s answer: “AWESOME!!”

As it turned out, Evan was basing his reply on the fact that they had to leave so early in the morning, he didn’t have enough time to finish everything I gave them for lunch, and it took a LONG time for the teachers to get everyone on the right bus in the afternoon.  I can only imagine the bedlam of trying to help over 400 kids who have never taken the bus before find their right one!!  Alex’s only complaints were that “It felt like we walked all day!” and he didn’t get a chance to play on the 0ne piece of playground equipment because there were too many other kids.

It sounds like it was quite a production when they first arrived in the morning.  There was a bagpiper and the whole local hockey team was there to help the kids find their way from the bus to their classrooms.  There were news reporters, and tons of parents.  From all accounts, the first day went well with only a few hitches at lunch and after school.  I heard from one of the teachers this weekend that they had a meeting once the kids were gone and have come up with a color coded system to hopefully speed things up at the end of the day.

I was annoyed that one of our neighbours, who has a child in Alex’s class hung around to walk home with us after the bus dropped the kids off.  The boys were so anxious to tell me about their day and I really wanted to hear all about it, but she dominated the conversation on the walk home, ranting about a letter she had written to the Minister of Education about how they were affecting the mental health of the children by moving them mid-year and we aren’t keeping the kids’ safety in mind because not all children are eligible to take the bus, (why would you want your child on the bus if they live close to the school – isn’t it healthier for them to walk and get some fresh air?!) etc…  I wanted to tell her to be quiet but held my tongue and apologized to the boys when she went into her own house.  I wonder if her son ever got to tell her about his own day?!

The boys are eager to go back and that is the main thing.  I think Monday will be a bit of a shock for the kids since it has been awhile since there has been much actual teaching going on.  From the last week of November until they were let out early for Christmas break, most of their time was spent on Christmas or school closing activities, then they had over three weeks off, and now it’s back to reality!  The only thing that might put a damper on it is that we’re expecting another heavy winter storm today/tonight and another on Wednesday.  Our family has a lot of traveling to do this week, so I really hope that the storms don’t amount to much for a change…

Evan had his friend Liam who used to go to another school over after curling on Friday for supper and a game of Risk.  Yesterday was spent shuttling the kids around to basketball and then a swimming birthday party in the afternoon.  Today, D’Arcy took the three older kids to 9:00 Mass because Olivia had an allergic reaction to something unknown yesterday (not anaphylaxis, but hives all over her body and diarrhea through the night.)  She actually slept until 9:45 this morning!  Alex is going to gymnastics with Maddie this afternoon and my plan is to get the house organized, bake some bread for the week and finish reading “The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas” in front of the fire once the snow starts tonight.  I love the weekend!

Goodbye Willow Street School

December 19, 2008

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I feel like I’m in mourning.  The boys’ elementary school of 120 students closed its doors for the last time Wednesday after 93 years.  The children will be going to a brand new elementary school after Christmas with a population of 560 kids from Primary – Grade 5.  They will now take the bus instead of walking and I will be packing lunches instead of waiting for them to burst through the door at noon.  A mother can do a lot of trouble-shooting in that half hour they are home at lunch!  (And I always throw their wet mittens, hats & socks in the dryer.)  I know that so many children stay for lunch and take a bus, so I feel a bit guilty for whining.  However, I grew up here in town (at one of the other schools that closed Wednesday) and walked to elementary school, junior high & high school.  Busses are foreign & frightening to me.

At Willow Street School, I was able to do things like call and ask the principal to look for Evan’s sneakers when they went missing.  I don’t think that will happen at the new school!!  Sarah was born when Evan was in primary and Olivia was born when Alex was in Primary & Evan was in Grade 2, and they announced both births over the PA when they found out.  Sarah goes along with me whenever I go volunteer and when I forgot Evan’s milk money, one of the EA’s called me because she knew he always got milk.  She ended up paying for him and I sent in the money in the afternoon.  When Alex started school they made so many accommodations for him because of his eye-sight, without us even having to ask!  Right down to getting him special paper with black lines and putting rough yellow tape on the edges of all the steps in the school (and there are a lot!) so he would be safer.   It is such a close-knit community and is incredibly sad, as a parent, to leave it behind.  The kids can’t wait.

We had the “official” closing a couple of weeks ago, on November 28th.  I’m guessing we had over 500 people show up – mostly former students & teachers, but we did have a gentleman who told us that his mother went to WSS in 1923!  We also had a gentleman from the class of 1928 come to see the school one last time.  It was a wonderful evening, as the photos convey:

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Some current and former staff

Some current and former staff

We had the school Christmas Concert on Monday which had a great turnout.  It was actually the best elementary school concert I’ve been to!  The music teacher had been brought out of retirement for this term, knowing that the school would be closing.  He was my music teacher in Junior High and I think he missed his calling  – he should have been an elementary teacher because the kids adored him!  He also is the conductor of the town band, so they performed and were the accompanists for part of the concert!  He put together an “alumni choir”, and I put that in quotation marks because I was talked into joining, although I was not a WSS alumni.  (It’s nice to feel needed, nonetheless!)  They justified it because I was a parent & PTG, and the former teacher who conducted the choir is actually the woman we bought our house from and I was in her choir when I was three!

Grade 2 - Alex's class

Grade 2 - Alex's class

Grade 4 seems somewhat confused

Grade 4 seems somewhat confused

...but come together for a delightful performance!

...but come together for a delightful performance!

I was surprised when five of us (moms) were called up on stage to receive bouquets in appreciation for the work we do around the school as volunteers. 

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On Wednesday, the girls, Ginna & I went along with the school to a Christmas Church Service where Alex read.  It was a fitting way to spend the morning of the last day, I think.  There were no big celebrations in the afternoon because the teachers were too busy packing.  The already sombre atmosphere was amplified at lunchtime when a boy in Grade One slipped in the slippery snowstorm and was hit by one of the staff with her car in the parking lot. He was taken away by ambulance and I have heard he has a broken leg, and will be in a cast for 6-8 weeks.

Parents had been invited to the school in the afternoon to be there for final bell, so Ginna, the girls & I walked over in the snow.  The teachers all got in a group outside before the kids were dismissed, and when the bell rang, they waved goodbye at the bottom of the steps, saying “Merry Christmas!” as the kids streamed out of the school.  There were tears and smiles & laughter and lots of hugs.

Alex & Maddie leaving

Alex & Maddie leaving

Evan & Christian leaving together

Evan & Christian leaving together

Teacher group hug

Teacher group hug

Natalie & Amy

Natalie & Amy

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I have a print of the school that we “won” at the silent auction at the Fun Fair in the Spring.  I think it is quite fitting that the weather on the last day is so similar to the print.  We (PTG) hosted a luncheon for the teachers and staff here yesterday and we presented the principal and the administrative assistant who are both moving on, with the same print.  We gave each of the teachers new books for their new classrooms with the profits of our book fair and had bookplates made up for those books with a folk-art painting of the school and the words, “This book was a gift from Willow Street School PTG”.  When we find out how much money we have leftover once we amalgamate with the other schools’ PTGs, we are planning to donate a piece of playground equipment to the new school.

Ah, change.  I put the following quote by Pauline R. Kezer on the place card for the Teachers’ Luncheon:  “Continuity gives us roots; change gives us branches,letting us stretch and grow and reach new heights.”  Change is never easy, and I know that the new school will end up being wonderful in its own way.  However, when we drove by WSS this morning and the moving vans were pulled up to the front door, Alex said from the back seat, “You know, it kind of hurts my heart to look at that”. 

Me too!

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Busy week

November 24, 2008

If I’m not around much this week, check out our schedule over on the sidebar and you’ll see why…  The Closing Ceremony for the boys’ school is Friday night, and as PTG President, I’m heavily involved.  We got the word on Friday that the new school will be ready on time and the builders intend to hand the keys over to the School Board on December 15th.  We’re also having 14 of our B&B friends over for dinner on Saturday night to celebrate the end of the season.  Throw in a birthday, an anniversary and a couple of “lasts” and there’s not much spare time left over.  Today is really my last day to get the housework and laundry caught up, so off I go!

Permanent Contract!

November 9, 2008

We got some really good news on Friday afternoon – D’Arcy has been awarded a Permanent Teaching Contract with the local School Board after resigning from his Permanent Position from the other School Board in April. We are so happy & relieved. He’s also been assigned to a position at his current school, so no more applying to jobs unless he wants to change schools or move closer to town!

This was the subject line of an email I arrived home to find yesterday afternoon after spending the day in the city with Alex & Sarah. I just love being harassed by strangers who are too cowardly to sign their name!

Original message (Only changed to take out the name of the boy’s school):

Hello there,

Last evening my son unfortunately stopped by your front door and politely asked if you would like to buy a magazine subscription which would support his school. You said no to my kind son, which is fine but you didn’t leave it at that, you continued to ask my son ” for what school” he explained “______ Middle School”, you then to an 11 yr. old boy said “oh I support the schools around here”. You Rude, Rude person, not lady, person. People like YOU unfortunately ruin for children that go out and put an effort, an effort in trying to raise money for their school, charitable organizations etc. The comment you made “I support schools around here” to my 11 yr. old son could be a comment made to another adult but let me tell you it is not a comment you make to a child, again you rude, rude person for feeling the need to say that to a child.

Your attitude as an adult stinks and I will never (not just myself) support you and your business.

T

p.s. I hope another child never comes knocking on your door, I can honestly say I am fearful for that.

Okay, so I replied and copied it to the Principal & Vice-Principal of her child’s school:

Dear “emailaddress@eastlink.ca”

I’m sorry that you felt I was rude to your 11 year old son who was out raising money for his school after dark last night. As Co-President of the _______ School PTG and mother of four children, I can assure you I most certainly was not rude to your son. We do support the schools around here, the school where my husband is a teacher, as well as the Boy Scouts, the Girl Guides, the Band, the Preschool, the Girls’ Choir, the basketball program, the curling program, and others. The children at ______ School are told that they are only supposed to fundraise to their own family & friends. I didn’t recognize your son and I know most of the kids in the neighbourhood, so that is why I asked what school he was fundraising for. These days, for everyone, there is only so much money to go around and I would not support any of our students fundraising in your area, unless it was to somebody they know.

Sincerely,
(My Full Name)

Forty-two minutes later, I received the following:

(My name),

Now I understand you are the type of person whom likes to make unnecessary comments. “oh I support schools around here” after learning my son was not from around your area. “who was out raising money for his school after dark”. Now do you feel better after making that unnecessary comment. For your information my son had finished an activity “in your area” and was on our way home, I thought we would make the one stop just after 7:00 pm as I waited in my van watching my son at your front door.

This is not about the money, it is not about who you support, how many children you have etc. I can assure you, that indeed you were rude to my son. (My name), it was not the way you said it that made you rude, it was what you said. After asking a child from what school he is fundraising for is fine, but the need to make the comment you made after learning he is not from your area is RUDE. After knowing my son was not from around your area you should have left it at that. You can be assure that it was the first time in “your area” and the last.

T

I did NOT respond to her last email, and trust that her school will deal with this appropriately on Tuesday. I take comfort in the fact that the friends she might be bad-mouthing us to, are probably not the kind of clientelle we would cater to. Whoops – was I just being rude? 😉