Statistics and crime map…
Apr 24 Published in Remembrance, Reflections by Purple
This is a continuation of my journal from my 2001-2002 school year. Please read the previous posts to give this entry context.
Thursday – April 18, 2002
Xochitl turned in an essay! She chose Juliet for her character analysis. The paper is titled “All for love.”
Last night I had supervision at the school play, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. I stayed in Watsonville, worked in my room and then went to the spa. I had the delicious homemade turkey vegetable soup again. Even though I liked the same things about the facility that I liked last time, I had a number of reminders of why I’d never choose it as my regular workout place. First and foremost, this branch of the spa allows teenagers to be members and I have no desire to see my students in the buff or to have them see me that way. Besides that, in the locker room, I heard one young woman say to another, “Wish me luck in there. It’s full of lesbians.”
This is just not a remark one would hear in the Capitola branch of the spa. When I was working out, a young guy on the machine next to mine started talking to an employee about capping someone with a paint ball gun. That also is a kind of conversation I never hear at my spa.
After hearing a loudspeaker announcement, the young man asked the employee, “What does T.I. mean?”
“Telephone Inquiry,” the employee said.
I always imagined T.I. meant true interest. At my spa, I can’t imagine clients asking about these obvious codes, or employees so readily divulging their meanings.
Finally, as I graded papers in the lobby, a group of Hispanic men sat behind me talking in Spanglish and sprinkling their conversation with cabron and conjugations of chingar. It bugs me that they wouldn’t talk like this in English, and if they did, the management might ask them to leave. For some reason, though, they seem to think it’s acceptable behavior in Spanish.
The play didn’t end until ten thirty. I’ve quit asking my husband to go to them with me. He generally sleeps through them, but when he’s awake, he’s as bad as a child, asking when it will be over. The acting was good. I enjoyed seeing Elizabeth play her part as a protean. She did a fine job and even had a few lines. Several of my former students were in the play, a couple in starring roles.
A student from ten years ago had come to see her little brother. She recognized me and said hi.
Tuesday, April 23rd
We had a lockdown drill during third period. This is a drill to prepare for an emergency like a shooter on campus. Last year the drama teacher, David Scott, made a video of what to do during the drill. He and I starred in it. Most of the classes had watched the video yesterday and many of my students had seen me.
“You did a good job,” Raymond told me. “You didn’t look at the camera even once.”
Instead of having third period just duck and cover, I told them to think of the best place and way to protect themselves, given that someone could shoot into the classroom through the window.
They were great. When we heard the announcement, we closed the windows and blinds and shut off the lights. The students found places behind the file cabinets and rolling bookshelf. One student built himself a barricade of the eight, two and a half gallon water jugs.
Two girls sat on the floor with me behind the teacher’s lectern. We chatted in the dark. It was rather nice, actually. Third period is a sweet class.
Compare and Contrast
We had a combo Awards Night/Open House on Tuesday. I thought my day was hectic, zooming home to meet my husband at his bus so I could take him to his car that was being serviced before I went to my hair appointment before I returned to Watsonville for the evening. But my friend Roxanne who offered me a ride, spent the afternoon at her son’s Tai Kwon Do exhibition. She got out of there in time to pick me up about 6:30. We dropped by the liquor store so that she could buy some beef jerky for her two sons staying home alone. As she drove toward Watsonville, she ate a piece of bread folded over a chunk of cheese. At least I’d had time to eat.
Our school’s gym, built as a WPA project in The Thirties, is a beautiful building with rich wood interior, but it can seat only about a third of our student body. This didn’t matter, of course. With all the teachers required to attend, a paltry one-third of the gym floor was covered by folding chairs, the lower bleachers were sprinkled with teachers and the upper tiers were empty. About one-half of the students meant to receive awards did not attend.
I saw two parents, but not because they came to see me. I spotted one in the crowd and hailed him. Brook’s dad. She’s in my third period class and is new to the school. The other mother was there because her daughter was receiving awards. I ran into her as I threaded through the crowd congratulating students I knew from their freshmen year. I felt proud that I’d taught a number of the award-winning students as freshmen. That year had been the crest of the AVID program and many of them had been in the program.
A mother of a student I had last year came over to see me. I miss having her son in class. She and her husband run a nursery, and she showered me with flowers on several occasions. When her son Mark’s poem was selected as a finalist in the Santa Cruz County High School Poetry Contest, she brought me two five-gallon buckets of delphiniums and Peruvian lilies and carnations.
If I had to give an award for every student in sixth, they might go something like this:
Sheridan Best Overall Student
Adriana Easiest to Like
Mindy Neatest Work
Becky Rosiest Cheeks
Melissa Best at Overcoming Obstacles
Xochitl Personality Plus
Roberto Best at Avoiding Work
Amanda Drama Queen
Chad Cutest Smile
Gustavo Most Mysterious
Rodolfo Most Humorous
Raymond Prettiest Boy
Lupe Most Lupe
Diana Best Socratic Seminar Participant
Pedro Best Athlete
Deborah Best Manners
Combining the Awards Assembly with the Open House was new this year and I’d have to call it a failure. While it guaranteed a teacher audience for the ceremony, I’ve never had so few parents at Open House.
Last Sunday, Sixty Minutes ran a segment on schools on military bases. They are not, as one might imagine, militaristic or regimented. The officers’ kids attend the same school as the children of the poorest private. The school populations are very diverse and the schools have been highly effective at closing the achievement gap between minority and non-minority students, and between students of different socio-economic backgrounds.
The secret? Enforced parental involvement. Parents are not just expected to visit their children’s schools, they are commanded to do so.
The segment also showed, though, how unwelcoming the typical public school is. Everywhere we see the message that visitors need to sign in at the Main Office. For good reason, of course. This kind of thing is a non-issue on a military base.
The schools on the base were so good, that the parents interviewed were willing to live in the poorer base housing, rather than buying nicer houses in the surrounding community (earning equity), in order to send their children to the base schools.
We’ve known for a long time that parent involvement is a missing ingredient at Watsonville High School, but I don’t think we’ve realized how crucial it is. It’s the yeast for the bread.
At this point, there could be a lot of dough at stake.