Thursday, January 19, 2006


To celebrate MLK day, our school of nearly 2,000 assembled outside. We're a motley crew, a little rowdy, but surprisingly respectful during an hour and a half of sitting in the chilly air.

We applauded the student cadet corps, who placed 2nd in our local competition (despite the fact that they're not very good at keeping in step, they take their jobs very seriously). We applauded the two dozen community members who came to show their support (including the local chief of police and the first black officer on the force who was a very young man). We cheered for the NFL players (yes, plural) who gave speeches about "winning the game of life." One guy (I'm really wishing I took notes on their names) crumpled up a $20 bill and stomped on it to make a point that you will always have value no matter what. And the keynote speaker, a current Oakland Raider and one of four brothers playing in the NFL (the largest record, we're told) talked about how he was raised by parents who dropped out of school. They decided that as a family they would break that cycle. Of 10 brothers (and 2 sisters), 7 boys went to college on football scholarships. He said, "If my momma were here, she'd tell you that what she is most proud of is not that 4 of us play in the NFL or 7 of us went to college. It's that she raised 10 gentlemen. None of us ever went to prison, we all carried ourselves with respect and treated others with dignity."

Actually he said "gentlemens," which kind of annoyed me as an English teacher, but made the point more strong to the students that each and every one of his brothers is a success.

Last, but not least, 17 boys in the after-school "academic all-star" flag football team crowded onto the stage, said their names into the microphone and got a new jersey and certificate applauding their work as athletes and academic successes. One student is mine currently--I'm thanking god he got his act together this afternoon just as I was a whisper away from sending him home on suspension today. Another two were formerly mine, they gave me hell in the classroom and are the very same ones who I know will always say hi with genuine interest when they see me. The last is the younger brother of my chronically truant student. I know that he was held back a grade, and his mom is deathly afraid of losing all three of them to gangs. I shook his hand and went home happy.


Blogger Colleen said...

this is why we teach. you put these kids through hell, and they put you through hell, but at the end of the day you are proud of them. and they learned something from you. be proud of yourself girl!

6:07 AM  

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