Tag Archives: school

My Childhood is Being Torn Down Bit by Bit and I’m Not Mad About Some of it.

This year is a tough one for the places I went to school.  The high school that I loved with all my heart and graduated from is being torn down because the district is combining my school with the other high school in the district to create one mega school.  My elementary school which I loved is being torn down, and right next to it, the school I went to for junior high is being torn down.  These two are being replaced by a park.  It is the junior high building that I’m going to write about here.

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It was in this building that I learned the most about life.  I moved into this building in the fourth grade, and it’s where I began to learn that standing out in any way could be bad. A couple of my friends and I wrote a play and with our teacher’s permission, performed it for the class.  Mistake.

In fifth grade, I had Mr. Hudie (pronounced Huoodeye) and I lost so many of my teeth in his class that he finally just started motioning me out of the room when I would raise my hand at inappropriate times.  He also turned bright red and spit when he’d get mad and yell, and boy was he a yeller.  It was funny and terrifying all at once.

It was also in fifth grade where I began to learn that sticking up for a friend could cause you a lot of trouble with other kids.  It’s where I began to think about myself before thinking of others. It’s where I began to learn that people you’d been friends with all your life couldn’t necessarily be trusted.

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Seventh grade was a big deal because we moved to the top floor. In seventh grade I learned that the tall boys always wanted to date the short girls and since girls grew up first, my 5’6″ (at the time) self started looking at older boys.  Mistake.

I also learned in this grade that sometimes teachers liked mean kids better than nice kids and they were perfectly capable and willing, to egg on the mean kids.  I also learned that making really good grades could get you picked on, but if you let the straight A’s go, the crappy mean kids would leave you alone, at least about that.  It’s also where I learned that sometimes when people thought they were insulting you by calling you Farrah when you got your blonde hair cut into feathers, that they were actually comparing you to one of the most beautiful women of all time (remember that red bathing suit poster anyone?) and instead of cringing because of it, I should’ve tossed said blonde hair and laughed at them. Ahhh hindsight.  Seventh grade also taught me that genuinely short men, under say 5’6″, hate and despise tall women and will make fun of them and give them shitty nicknames. To that guy I say, dude, you looked like a chubby leprechaun and I hope you’re still short and I hope you got genuinely obese. And bald.

Eighth grade introduced me to lecherous teachers. A nasty, child molesting asshole, who a few years later lost his next job and maybe his teaching license for his disgusting ways. It’s where I learned that there was a big difference between a teenage boy telling you that you looked nice in a pretty dress and a 40 year old teacher pulling you out of music class to tell you that you look nice. It’s where I learned that if you forgot a book in your locker, you should always take your mom into the empty school with you to look for it; because when you go in alone, you might discover that you didn’t forget your book, your pervert science teacher picked up your book when you went to the bathroom in his class and he was standing at the top of the stairs with it in his hand waiting for you. It’s also where I learned that you can back perverts off with a loud voice, a threat of violence, and a hasty retreat sans book. It was on my desk the next day when I went into his room. He never spoke to me again, gave me an effortless A in the class and disappeared to a new school over the summer. It’s when I learned to tell my mother EVERYTHING.

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I learned about voting in that school because when I was little my parents voted in the basement.  In genuine voting booths with American flags across the opening for privacy. It’s where I won a talent show with my fantastic patriotic tumbling routine when I was little and where I won a couple of Halloween costume contests. It’s where I learned about jealousy, both mine and that directed at me. It’s where I learned that I really loved performing and began to want to be an actress. It’s where I got my first on-stage laughs because I refused to kiss my co-star so we rewrote the script and put in some physical comedy (falling off the back of the couch together and kicking our legs around like we were making out, and going in a closet together, with me coming out with his coal black wig on top of my very blonde head to imply more making out; it was supposed to be his black mustache, but he forgot it) that made the high school principle come up to us after the play and tell us we should consider acting as a profession. It’s where the seeds of the cruelty and bullying that would cause me to change schools, lose my friends and the only life I’d known were sown.

I’m sad about my elementary school and my high school being torn down, but I’m not sad about this school being torn down. I have some good memories there, but the majority of them are unpleasant, heartbreaking, sad, scary, infuriating, and unfair. The things I learned in that place made me cautious, suspicious, and untrusting. In a way though, I guess I wouldn’t trade it, because it made me tough. It gave me an edge that I otherwise would not have. It made me a better person and a ferocious mother. It taught me about human nature and character or lack thereof. It gave me one of the best bullshit detectors known to man, and it’s protected me because I will take no crap. From anyone.

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So you beautiful old building full of ghosts, adios. After you’re gone, I’m going to come walk through the park that will replace you and I’ll gather up the little ghostly wisps of myself that are trapped there. I’ll incorporate them back into that little girl still hiding inside of me, and she and I will flip you the bird when we leave. Because that’s who you made us.

Be kind to someone today.  It’s a gesture that many are denied.

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BUT IT’S FOR THE CHIIIILDREN!!!!

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My daughter is in band. She’s been in band since sixth grade and she has loved band all the way through. It has given her a place to exist in the shark tank of high school. Most of her friends are in band, the boys she has dated are in band, the band room has been her home away from home, and the director is her favorite teacher.

A couple of weeks ago, the director was suspended and forced into early retirement next February because of “ethics” charges filed by one parent. I put “ethics” in parenthesis because this is the most UNethical series of events I have ever been witness to, and I watch the news.

I have been wanting to write about this since it happened, but I had to let it percolate for a while because the situation made and continues to make me so angry that if I didn’t take some time, it would’ve come out sounding crazy and disjointed and that is not one of my hallmarks in this world. I realized that it was time a couple of days ago when I woke up one morning to discover that I had been organizing my thoughts in my head while I was asleep. Weird I know, but it’s how I roll. Anyway, these are my true, and honest thoughts, and I plan to disseminate this as far and wide as I can, including sending it to school bureaucrats, so here goes.

ChristopherLydia-065-lbO

Dear School Board, Principal, and other involved persons,

I am writing you today with regard to the recent suspension of our high school band director. I know, I know, you’ve heard all you want to hear; it’s a “personnel issue” and we aren’t supposed to talk about it anymore; blah, blah, blah… Sadly, I don’t really care whether or not you want to hear it, you need to listen, because I have some things to say that I’m pretty sure no one else has said to you because most people are afraid of their own shadows and wouldn’t say sh*t if they had a mouthful. I am not one of those people. This ceased to be a “personnel issue” when what should’ve been private papers between an employee and their employer were made grotesquely public; as a band parent and a taxpayer, when that happened, it became MY issue.

I could go on and on about what a great teacher our director is, but I know you’ve heard it all already. I could tell you how much the majority of kids like/love the director, but you’ve heard that all before. I could point out that the charges are ridiculous, that situations have been ever so slightly twisted to make them into something when they are really nothing, but again, that would be redundant. I could make a case that every teacher, regardless of what they teach or the grade level they teach, tutor students on their own time and get paid for it and if you are going to censure one teacher, you need to get busy and censure everyone else. I could add commentary about band clinics vs. sports clinics, about how the board has a say in everyone who is hired to work with our kids, so there should’ve been no way that they didn’t know who was hired to work with the trombone section during band camp. I could say a lot about ALL of those things, but I don’t think I will, because I’m a fan of original, critical thought and I don’t want to repeat what has already been said. Instead, I’m going off on a completely different path. Money.

I have lived in my home for twelve years as of May 1st. In those twelve years, my property taxes have doubled. Much of that doubling is due to school tax levies. Yeah, yeah, we went a few election cycles without getting one passed, but in the end, they get passed and they are usually whoppers. Not long after we first moved in here, I had to pull my daughter from dance lessons because our taxes went up so much that I could no longer afford lessons for MY kid, due to having to increase funding to the schools. I didn’t like that. Haven’t forgotten it. But in my suburban mom fog, I voted for the damn thing, because well, THE CHILDREN!!

In the twelve years I have lived in my home, I’ve had school busing taken from my kids. The high school decided that learning German, the language of the most powerful country in Europe, was no longer an option, because I suppose, we have a huge population of future priests and doctors in my community who need to learn Latin, but very few aspiring business people for whom the German language might come in handy some day. The art department is in the process of being gutted because well, art. Ewww… Who needs that? Oh right, only the kids who’s entire talent base lies in that direction. Future art school applicants and graduates apparently do not have the right to an education that includes the things they are good at. News flash!! There actually ARE kids who want to go into some form of art for a career. A mom friend of mine actually had to email the principal about an unpaid bill for metals supplies so that MORE supplies could be purchased so the kids could do the projects they needed to do at the end of the year. I’ve seen the giant stadium lights burning during a gushing rainstorm, over CHRISTMAS BREAK, adding to the electric bill, yet we are on the precipice of bankruptcy as a district. When I first started substitute teaching, I filled in for a kindergarten teacher who was leaving for a teaching symposium in Italy. The country. In Europe. I guess they don’t have those things right up the road in say, Columbus. Gotta go to Italy. Our district has built a beautiful new administration building since I moved into my home. I guess that was for the children. Of course it was. I could go on, but I’m certain you get my drift. Take more money, cut out things people need and want because well, the children.

Our band program and our band director have meant everything to my daughter. He has taught her far more important things than how to play a French Horn and roll step. He has taught her to be on time, “early is on time, on time is late…”; he has taught her to try her best, “good, better, best, never let it rest until your good is better and your better best.”; he has taught her that when she is hot and thirsty and sunburnt at band camp and feels like she’s going to die, that if she goes and gets a big drink of water she can do it one more time. He’s taught her that things are more fun if you’re good at them and that practicing and trying and working your butt off pays off. He’s had really high expectations of her, and he has demanded that she meet them. He’s called her out in front of everyone else, and praised her when she’s done well. He’s taught my daughter to be respectful of others, and he’s taught her to strive and have self-respect and joy in a job well done. She has more poise, confidence, discipline, self-respect, drive and maturity than she would have ever had without band. These are all qualities that my husband and I instill at home and having them re-iterated by a respected teacher is priceless. He doesn’t even know he’s helping us. He’s just doing his job. Isn’t that what an educator is supposed to do?

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She’s a senior. She has three weeks of school left. He is not coming back until the last week she’s there. He’s been suspended because someone apparently had an axe to grind. I don’t know why, I can only speculate and I won’t do that here. I WILL say that I saw in writing the person responsible say the kids come first. I agree.

Suspending our director doesn’t just hurt him. In fact, if I were him, I’d be on a plane to Florida to spend my two weeks in the proverbial principal’s office on the beach, but I doubt that’s what he’ll do. He’ll start working on next season’s marching band show, or think of ways to improve the bands for their concerts, or ways to help kids learn to try their best. The REAL people being punished over this pointless mess are the children. The ones all the government bureaucrats (and lets be honest, public schools are an extension of the government) purport to always put first. Instead of spending the last three weeks of her senior year enjoying herself, my daughter got in the car today and said she’s done. She told me that band was the only thing that she truly loved about school, and now that he’s gone, it’s no longer the band she loves. Shame on you “put the children first” adults. Shame. On. You.

So what do I want? I want you to rescind the suspension. Let him come back to school immediately to spend these last few weeks with kids who have looked up to him and learned from him and spent so much time with him these last three years. You’ve already pushed him out three months early next year, that’s enough. Quality educators need to be in the classroom. Why should you all care what I want? Next paragraph.

I’ve had it with this school district cutting everything that my kids enjoy. I’m sick of the band having to practice in a dark parking lot because the doc gets on the nerves of the soccer coach who is practicing on the next field. I’m sick of politics and political people. I’m sick of paying over 4000$ a year in property taxes and it’s never enough. I’m sick of the football team getting a giant inflatable football helmet (where’d the money for that come from, hmmm?) and our kids barely get a mention when they win every competition they go to and when they leave for nationally acclaimed parades like Macy’s. I’m sick of all the attention going to jocks who play on a local stage, while our musicians who play on national stages and attract loads of positive attention to our school district get ignored. I’m sick of keeping my mouth shut. The squeaky wheel gets the grease so they say, and I feel mighty rusty. I’ve lived in this community for twelve years. I’ve subbed in the schools and volunteered in the schools, and with scouts, and church. I know a LOT of people. I’ve always voted for the schools, even though it’s bankrupting me. I’ve always supported, for the children. But it has gotten me nowhere. If my daughter has to finish out her senior year without this teacher who has meant the world to her, I will never vote for another school levy in this district ever again. In fact, I will contact the No Lakota people and volunteer for them. I will actively campaign against every levy that comes down the pike. In fact, I may call for an investigation of every school board we’ve had for the last twenty years who let everything that is supposedly so horrible happen. Where have you administrators been for twenty years? If everything our director has done has been wrong, who is not doing their due diligence? It seems to me that would be the administrators.

ChristopherLydia-063-lbO

Please don’t force me into politics. I hate it, but if I HAVE to get involved to right wrongs, and reverse injustices, I will. Free Snyder. Give my daughter back the happiness that band has always given her. Let her graduate on an up note. Do what you say you do, and think of the kids. I’m not alone. I spent an hour and a half trying to get out of Kroger on Saturday afternoon because I kept running into band parents who agree with me. There were two hundred and seventy five kids in band last year. Multiply that over 28 years of service this man has had in our district. Multiply THAT by at least two parents per kid, many have three or four, and remember; band kids grow up and turn into adults who go to the polls. That is a mighty big voting block. Remember, it’s for the children.

No justice, no more of MY MONEY.

Have a day.

What I’d LIKE To Say To The Athletic Director At Our School But Probably Won’t

My daughter is in marching band.  She plays mellophone in MB and french horn in orchestra band.  She can also play flute and piccolo.  Every summer, the high school marching band kids go through a little thing called Band Camp.  For the first week, they rehearse from 7am til noon.  Second week, they are working from 7am til 10pm with occasional social things thrown in.  Third week, they are back to 7am to noon.  Then they have a couple more multi-hour practices and then school starts.  Once school starts, they rehearse every Tuesday and Thursday night from 6-9pm on the football field and every Wednesday afternoon from 3-5pm on the black top in the parking lot.  There are 240-ish kids in our marching band.  We have what is, in my opinion, the best band director in the state and maybe the country.  Our band wins awards and marches in big famous parades and tours Europe and stuff like that.

Last week while our kids were busting their butts in 90 degree heat for roughly 13 hours per day, the soccer coach at our high school complained to the athletic director that on Tuesday and Thursday nights, our MB rehearsals bother him because the big loud metronome they use when they are learning is irritating to him.  Awwww, booo hoooo….   So our athletic director told our band director that we could not use the football field on Tues and Thurs because we irritate the soccer coach who is playing on an adjacent field.  They ended up working it out and we still get screwed, but not as thoroughly as we originally thought we would.  This is the scenario, the following is what I would like to say to the soccer coach AND the athletic director.

Dear Whiners,

Our marching band kids are athletes.  They stretch, march forward, backward and sideways, all the while playing difficult music that they must memorize.  Most of them lose significant amounts of weight during their training season and sustain athletic injuries like torn achilles tendons, muscle pulls and cuts and bruises.  One of our color guard girls had a sabre cracked into the underside of her chin last week that required stitches on one part of the injury and glue on the other part.  She sat holding ice on the wound and watched what was happening so she would not be behind and she was there bright and early the next morning to continue working.  If our kids do MB for two years in a row they are excused from a year of gym classes, same as soccer players, football players, baseball players and cheerleaders et.al.

Marching band kids have parents who pay taxes on their homes.  Thousands of dollars a year of taxes on their homes, with the overwhelming majority of said money going to the school district to pay for educating our kids and providing facilities for them to use for their various activities.  There are waaay more MB parents paying those taxes than soccer parents.  Our kids have every right to use the facilities that we pay for.

Our marching band is award-winning.  BIG awards.  Grand Champions at all but one of the competitions we attended last year.  Our marching band wins so many trophies in fact during the course of a season, that there is not room for them at the school and kids who win various marching band awards get to choose from the mountain of trophies and take one home at the end of the season.  Can the soccer team say that?  Nope.

Our marching band has performed in the Rose Bowl parade, toured Europe and is going to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade in 2013.  Hundreds of high school bands applied to be a part of that parade and ours was one of only 12 I think, that were accepted.  Has the soccer team done anything like that?  Nope.

Our marching band has given our school district countless opportunities to demonstrate to the world the excellence of our schools and our students.  When our band marches into a stadium for a competition, you can hear everyone in the stands groan, because they know that in all likelihood, they don’t stand a chance against us.  Can the soccer team say the same?  My educated guess is, Nope.

So, athletic whiners, if you don’t like Dr. Beat, go to Wal-mart and buy some earplugs.  We have work to do and unfortunately for you apparently, we compete on football fields and in order to maintain our excellence, we need to practice on the football field.  If the earplugs are not enough, put your balls in a bag and go to the freshman building to play or practice or whatever you are doing.  In order for US to go to the other field, we have to use two large panel trucks to transport our equipment.  It costs a fortune to move our stuff and since we are self-funded and get ZERO dollars from the district, we can’t afford to do that twice a week.  Your balls will fit in a trunk and your kid’s parents can drop them off at the other field.

Band geeks of the world unite!  No more second fiddle to sports!  We ARE a sport and we are an EXCELLENT team that deserves to use the facilities that we pay for just as much as people who play with balls.

Thank you,

Rabid Band Mom

Have a lovely evening and be good to one another 🙂