Statistics and crime map…
Oct 30 Published in Untagged 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.
The Sordid Void
I drive about twenty minutes south on Freeway One. The heavy traffic runs in the opposite direction. My commute is pleasant, the trees of the Aptos hills and an occasional view of the ocean off to my right. For almost twenty years, I’ve never tired of cresting the final hill and seeing the Pajaro Valley spread before me, sometimes softly blanketed in morning fog like a Japanese print, sometimes the sun rising above the mountains.
I used to exit on Main Street, driving along the “whiter” outskirts, past the Orchard Supply and new Target. The road curves at the beautiful, red brick Saint Patrick’s church, patiently and fully restored after the 1989 earthquake. The church marks one’s entry into the old downtown where the stores advertise ventas. I turned at the quaint, charming plaza and drove two blocks to the school.
Now that I’m in the portables, I drive an extra mile to exit on Riverside Drive. The Pajaro River is not in view. Strawberry fields spread on both sides of the road, giving way on my left to cold storage facilities with semis lining their rolled up doors. I pass Industrial Road and Harvest Drive; the names say it all.
The intersection with Lower Main clings to vestiges of its seamy reputation. The La Frontera bar and Caeser’s Club have remained for the last twenty years. But it’s hard to be the bastion of male debauchery with a new United States Post Office katty corner and a Taco Bell across the street.
In my room, I have magnetic words on the side of my file cabinet. The students arrange them into messages:
life is a repulsive ache
enormous lazy raw womans but means top let (with one of the loose s’s put over the t in let).
I wish my students put as much effort and creativity into their assignments. I took down the word sausage and put it on my refrigerator at home. The sentences my students would build with that one!
Still, the words are doing their job. A student asked me the meaning of sordid. Later, he wanted to know void.
Right in the middle of the words, I’ve posted a list of the top fifty words that appear on SAT’s.
I was supposed to meet at eight a.m. with the new vice-principal, the one in charge of my evaluation. That was the reason for the meeting. It’s required, even though this year I do a self-assessment.
I got to cool my heels outside his office for a half hour. There are a few chairs along the side of his office right by the front entrance to the Main Building. Right across from the chairs is Attendance. The entryway felt like Grand Central. The front door slammed every thirty seconds as teachers and students streamed in and out. A long line of students filed by for late bus passes. They had to show their ID cards.
“La perdí,” one kid moaned as he stood aside, desperately patting his pack.
A brassy looking mom chatted spiritedly with our Attendance Specialist and then disappeared into the assistant principal’s office. She emerged some time later in tears.
As the assistant principal later shared with me, there’d been trouble at the homecoming game. On Friday, as part of one of the homecoming spirit activities, students could dress in their caps and ties and boxers, etc. The caps turned out to be a bad idea.
Years ago, as part of our dress code, we’d eliminated caps. Too many gang affiliations were signaled with them. Apparently the wearing of certain headgear had culminated in a “near riot” at the football game. Police had to be called. The mom’s son had been involved.