Thursday, May 16, 2013

Career Day

Today was a bittersweet day for me.

Today, I was in charge of Career Day at my youngest sons school.  The same school he and his brother attended from first grade until now.  My oldest finished last year.  My youngest finishes in two weeks. 

This is a K-8 Denver Public School.  This school originally opened in the 50's.  The same time as all the houses in the area were built.  This area of town was considered "South East Denver", now well, it's just part of Denver.  After many years, the school closed.  The "original" kids were grown and gone.  The parents were still living in the neighborhood.  Not many kids for an elementary school. There were five families on our block with kids at the same school when we moved in.  Everyone else was over the age of 75.

The school became an administration building.

About 15 years ago, the neighborhood united and asked for the school to re-open for the neighborhood.  A "test school" so to speak.   Junior Highs/Middle Schools are notoriously bad across the country.  What does one do with the middle schoolers?  Too young for high school.  The schools with just "middle school" - can't find a positive one to say about many of them.  Let's try this:  Let's make it a K-8 school.

The school re-opened.  15 years later, this school is the #1 DPS school.  A few years ago, some of the smaller middle schools were trying to get DPS to move the "middle school" out of the school to help give them students.  "Allowing for more room for elementary students.  As the superintendent for DPS said at the time:  "Why would we disrupt and change our most successful school model?"

I call it my "public/private school".  Yes, it's mostly over-educated, upper-middle class parents and kids.  If the kids of the "really wealthy" have it even better, it's hard to imagine what THEIR lives are really like.

The parents are over involved.  Although, this "next generation" of parents aren't near as involved as we have been.  Which actually is kind of scary.  The school didn't get to be the best without all the parents volunteering.  People now move into the neighborhood to get their kids into the school.  Only they "don't have the time" to volunteer.  Parents of the next group of kids, let me tell you something, "I DON"T HAVE TIME EITHER".  But, I made the time.  I found the time.  Other parents did too.  Working parents.  Stay at home parents.  The school didn't just become the best.  We made it happen.

Of course, when the kids are young, they WANT you at the school.  They want you to help out.  Until about 4th grade.  They will want you there then, but not as much.  Then every year you become needed/wanted just a little bit less.

Field trips, "book clubs", auction committees, bake sales, cake walks, fundraisers.  A little bit of everything.  It's been great. You can say what you want about public education, but until the parents/community are involved in each and every school, nothing will change.

And today was my last volunteer activity for this incredible school.

Don't get me wrong - it's not a perfect place.  There are politics amongst the faculty, the parents, the kids.  There are cliques. It's a normal place.

 An incredible place. A building that kept my children safe.  Teachers whom taught my children.  A couple that didn't like my boys.  A few whom loved them.  People whom cared.  A community of parents, teachers, faculty whom helped me raise my boys.

I was in charge of Career Day last year.  The mayor came to speak.  Plus many other incredible speakers.  I arranged it all.  Then said, that's it, I'm done.  "Please, please, just once more", they asked.  "Okay, I will line up the keynote speaker and handle the start.  You have to find someone else to do the rest".

It's been my only volunteer activity at school this year.  I have been SO done.  I couldn't have pulled it off without help, but it's done.  And, yes, it was great.  All of it.

The last few times I've the left the school, my eyes have teared up. 10 years of my life have been spent in this building, with these people.  I've NEVER done anything for this long of a period.

Today though, after I hugged the office ladies good-bye, I quietly just slipped out the side door being thankful for it all.

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