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Saturday, April 30, 2011

A Memorable Day - And Night!

Friday, April 29th, was the first school day all year that went by without me publishing a Blog entry. Let me explain how this streak was interrupted.

I generate the writing for my posts each evening. However, yesterday was a full day - and night. There was a half day of school due to an afternoon professional development program. I attended several really interesting and enlightening sessions revealing the excellent and creative work of staff members who had developed inquiry based learning projects using a variety of instructional tools and methods. It was perhaps the most interesting and productive staff development day I have experienced in my career because it featured the efforts of our own staff, and these presenters served to enhance the instructional prowess of their peers in a subject of interest and value to our continuous improvement strategy. The commitment of the presenters was readily apparent in the preparations and delivery of their teaching and learning strategies.

Once the instructional sessions were finished I went immediately into preparations for the Junior Prom. From that point, until the end of the After Prom party at 2:00 am (in the morning!), I was away from home. Not long after falling asleep I arose and headed to the opening ceremonies of the Green Island Little League season. Even though this schedule was rigorous, I am not complaining because it contained the spectrum of experiences which attracted me to the position of superintendent of Green Island. That is, instead of a role as principal which limited me to a specific grade configuration, like Kindergarten through grade 6, I was able to experience important events in the lives of elementary learners anxious to start another campaign of baseball and high school learners who were excited about the Prom.

My wife and I attended the Heatly Junior Prom last evening. It was a pleasant and entertaining experience. The young men and women in attendance not only demonstrated positive and appropriate behaviors, but they also gave every indication of having an enjoyable time throughout the festivities. The event was free of drama and divisiveness. The effect of the small size of the school and the resulting familiarity among all members of the student body were evidenced in the permeable interactions between and among people from grades 9-12.

The school is too small to limit the Prom to just 11th graders. The average grade at Heatly numbers approximately 25 learners. As a result, anyone from grades 9 -12 is welcome to purchase a ticket for the Prom. The selection of the Prom Court and a few other elements of the Prom are restricted to 11th graders, but everyone is able to engage in the dance, consume a fine meal, listen to music, and attend the After-Prom party.

The actual Prom was preceded by a get-together at the gazebo in the small park adjacent to the school. Despite the threat of rain, which has visited the area nearly every day for a week now, many community members took advantage of the assemblage for an opportunity to take photographs and videos of the high school learners in their gowns and tuxedos before any raindrops made their presence felt. It was a relaxing half hour or forty five minutes. It was nice to visit with proud parents and grandparents and watch as the adults recorded images of their children and grandchildren, but also the offspring of neighbors and friends. The ease in which adults mingled among the groups of Prom attendees and took pictures was a reminder of how close the community is, as well as a reflection of a strength between the community and school.

At 6:00 pm a Party Bus transported the Prom attendees from the park to the country club for the dance. I appreciated that the majority of the young men and women went to the Prom in this manner. For one thing, it maintained the togetherness of the participants. But there was another special point. That is, there was no competition among people hoping to impress with extraordinary and expensive limousines.

This experience meant a great deal to me because I know nearly every one of the high school learners and the occasion was more personal because of that. I was impressed, but not entirely surprised, by the respectful demeanor exhibited by the prom attendees. As a chaperone, I did not have to worry about any trouble among participants, nor was I distracted by the need to constantly supervise those at the dance. Instead, I was able to sit back and watch the young men and women enjoy an important annual ritual.

Following the dance we went to a local bowling alley where everyone was treated to pizza and soda while bowling as much as they wanted. I was asked to join a team with three high school learners and we proceeded to have a lot of fun in a half hearted competition (thankfully, no one was paying much attention to the scores). I was grateful to be invited to become involved as a participant rather than a spectator. I found myself trying to imagine a similar experience when I was in high school. I never met the superintendent of the district I attended until he handed me my diploma at my graduation ceremony - so I couldn't really picture him having fun with us at an after Prom party.

The activities throughout the school day and Prom night were pleasurable experiences that reaffirmed my assessment of the staff and learners at Heatly. They're special, and I'm fortunate to be able to work for them.

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