Monday, August 30, 2010

Back to school: Class lists

Last week, one of my favorite messages of the year appeared on the Woodrow Wilson Elementary School reader board: "Class lists posted Friday, Aug. 27."

For the uninitiated, this means finding out who your kids are going to go school with -- teacher and students -- for the next year. Back in the day, when the Number One and Two Sons were students at Wilson, the lists went up the Friday leading into Labor Day Weekend because school typically started on the following Tuesday. You had all weekend to celebrate or weep as the case may be.

Visualize this last weekend (and this seriously hasn't changed in 20 years): Entire families drifting down to school starting early Friday evening and on into the weekend to scan the classroom decrees. Many walking, carving out a stop at The Scoop to celebrate or console depending on the verdict posted on the door of Wilson. Cars slowly pulling up, with breathless young things hopping out and running up the stairs in unbearable anticipation.

Some kiddos (and families) literally waltz down the stairs -- I got in the favorite teacher's class! My BFF is too! Can hardly wait till the first day of school!

Others thought slink away from the school in gut-sucking dejection. Got the worse teacher in the school. All my friends are in the other classroom. Life sucks.

(I personally think it's rather bold of Wilson to post class lists a week before school starts, leaving five working days for Helicopter Parents to show up petitioning why Precious should be moved to classroom X or Y. HPs, voice of experience speaking here: That which does not kill our children generally makes them strong. They usually end up in the classrooms where they belong. Okay. With a few exceptions... without naming names, the N1S' 6th grade teacher... nutball from day one... thank you very much).

That being said, regardless of the generation, the elation/dejection paradigm never changes. As I walk Ben through neighborhood and I watch this timeless ceremony -- The Checking of Lists -- my heart still swells yet shrinks in anticipation with each kid's run up the Wilson stairs to check the class lists.

I acknowledge it's not a perfect system. But it worked, and still does I think. Most of the time.

I'm not sure we can ask for too much more than that.

P.S. I admit. I have my HP tendencies. I DID end up in the principal's office that one fall, passionately lobbying for a change in 6th grade teachers, pointing out that the only reason why N1S was placed in a certain teacher's classroom was because he was resilient and would survive the year. Unlike some of his peers. Ouch.

That which does kill you makes you strong.

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