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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Best Little School House in Texas

By Jody Worsham

All rights reserved for small schools

I haven’t been to a small high school graduation in…well since my own graduating class of nineteen students over fifty years ago.  Since my twelve-year old will be graduating from her new school in ___I can’t believe it___six years___we decided to attend. 

I knew, from the limited parking, to get there early.  What I didn’t know was that I would be sitting in the bleachers, the chairs on the gym floor being reserved for family and friends of the graduates.  Black plastic was duck taped to the gym windows (I could fix that.  There would be proper blackout inserts for my child’s graduation) in order for the slide presentations to be seen.  A portable stage was set up at one end of the gymnasium with a curtained backdrop and chairs for the administrators who would be presenting the diplomas.  Twenty-four chairs were lined up to the right of the stage for the graduating class of 2013.  Eighteen chairs were set up next to the giant screen for those presenting scholarships to the graduates on the opposite side.  At 6:45 the principal, superintendent, secretary, and counselor began bringing in the potted ferns for the edge of the stage.

At precisely 7p.m. the Graduating Class of 2013 marched in appropriately spaced to make the most of their numbers to a recording of “Pomp and Circumstance” and amidst shouts, hoorahs, and whistles that would have put my husband’s PhD.  graduation at A&M to shame.   Clearly these were proud and possibly relieved parents to see their children about to graduate.

After the prayer (yes, they pray at this school) the historian presented the history of the class.  Seven of the twenty-four who started kindergarten together were graduating together.  She named the others and the year they joined the class.   The Salutatorian gave a moving speech about having a rough start but then was guided and challenged by teachers who knew when to tug and when to hug.  The Valedictorian entertained us with a speech from the view point of a modern teenager whose parents and teachers were often viewed as not so modern. I laughed.  I cried.  I remembered.

Scholarships were then presented.  When the presentations were over twenty-four graduates shared in over $400,000 in scholarships.  Every single graduate received a scholarship from the community in the amount of $1,000.

The power point presentation was next.  Pictures of special moments in each graduates’ life appeared on the giant screen. Black plastic and duct tape quickly forgotten.  Captured moments filled with laughter.  Some pictures with stories shared only by the graduates but special all the same.

An hour and a half had elapsed when the superintendent came to the podium.  Some have asked “Couldn’t we shorten this ceremony a bit” but I suspect for the parents of these graduates, it has gone way too fast.”

And with that each graduate came forward to receive his diploma.  The principal having attested to the fact that all graduates had met the requirements set forth by the state of Texas, declared them high school graduates and instructed them to move their tassels to the other side of their mortar board hats.

Then each graduate was given the opportunity to present roses to those who held a special place in their hearts.  It took a bit of time as they searched the crowds for the ones they had selected, but nobody seemed to mind. 

They reassembled, the benediction, the recessional and it was over.

Fifty years ago as I received my diploma, I was excited about the future. Today I am once again exited for the future of my children who will soon graduate from this little school.

The school is growing as others seek that which is so special about this school.  Another classroom is already being built.  Growth is necessary but I hope it never grows so large that each graduate could not receive a scholarship, or the power point reduced to strobe like flashes of pictures or the opportunity for the seniors to present their roses. I would miss that.

Small school doesn’t automatically equal a small education. I hope this school never outgrows what makes it so special.  Size matters when it comes to the size of the schools’ heart, not the size of its graduating class.  

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

...And a Half!

By Jody Worsham

All rights reserved for candles and a fire extinguisher

Remember when you were a kid and you were asked how old you were?  If you were very young you might hold up two fingers or three.  Later you would proudly say that you were five and a half.  As you got older you would announce to the entire world that you were twelve going on thirteen.  Your sixteenth birthday may have found you driving, legally.  And at eighteen you were old enough to quit school, marry and/or move out on your own if you were dumb enough to do so.  

Twenty was a bit awkward for most people.  You were no longer a teenager and not old enough to vote but you were old enough to marry so I did.  Approaching the “Don’t trust anyone over thirty” birthday was no big deal because most of us didn’t trust anyone anyway.    My fortieth and fiftieth birthdays were barely acknowledged amidst the birthdays and graduations of six children.

My sixtieth birthday found me retiring from the school where I had taught for 37 years and going to a new school because of (shock of all shocks) Social Security.  It seemed I needed the benefits of my husband’s social security so I had to retire to be rehired. When did the need for social security sneak up on me? Then, just as I was getting semi-comfortable with the concept of Senior Citizen, I was surprised with “Congratulations! You are now the mother of a one day old and a three year old.  Children say hello to your Medicare Mom.” 

Is it no wonder that during this decade of my life only those with a death wish would ask my age and only those who survived to tell their friends would have any inkling of what I said.

The days of telling my age on the fingers of one hand have long gone.  Heck telling my age on my fingers and toes plus the fingers and toes of all my children have been gone a long time.  However, I have adopted the mental age reference of a five year old.

 I am now something-something and a half.  In a few months I will be something-something and three-quarters.  By fall I will be something-something and five-sixths.  By late fall I will be something-something and eleven twelfths. 

By January of next year I will have reached the age of “Shut your mouth before I max out the credit cards, bankrupt social security, apply for a reverse mortgage on the double wide, and move in with you…in Arkansas.”

Like Maxine, I have survived the Stone Age, the Ice Age, the Bronze Age, the Tween-Age, the Teen Age, the New Age, the Hot Flash Age, and the Age of Accountability.

And by all accounts I have now reached Old Age.

 Better have the fire extinguisher ready for my next birthday cake.  It’s going to get HOT!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Infomercial "Change"

By Jody Worsham

All rights reserved for shipping and handling

If your TV serves as your night light like mine does, you make occasionally wake to one of those infomercials.  They seem to run non-stop from 2 a.m. to around 6 a.m.  I have awakened to Eggies of a thousand pieces, the ceramic knives that can slice tomatoes as thin as McDonalds, the diamond orgrenic non-stick skillet that wouldn’t pass my burn test, and the giant cupcake cake pan that produces nuclear mushroom shaped cakes, so radiant.

Either the infomercial creators have entered menopause or their wives/mothers have because now the hottest items being offered for sixteen payments of $19.99 are the coolest. 
Enter the Chillow.

The Chillow is a pillow insert with some kind of cooling gel that keeps your head cool at night.  “No more flipping pillows at night with the Chillow.”  Now having gone through hot flashes with a family that survived the trip, I can tell you that your head is not the only part of your body that needs chillin’.  I can see the Chill-sheet,  the Freon filled sleeping bag, and  the Snow Cone bra on the not so distant horizon.

Do they expect the hot mamas to put the gel filled seat cushions and Dr. Scholes gellin’ insoles in the freezer before retiring at night?  Wouldn’t it make more sense to just crank up the old air conditioner, especially if you factor in shipping and handling?

With such a large portion of the world’s population entering menopause, maybe it’s their attempt at curtailing global warming.  Or maybe it’s more of a humanitarian effort to help the male population from suffering frost bite in the summer. 

If it is a humanitarian effort, then I think they should offer a product that promises unlimited  dead silence between 2a.m. and 6 a.m.  for six low payments of $19.99.  Now that is something I might purchase. 

Oh wait.  I already have that.  It’s called the off button. 

Thursday, June 6, 2013

I Been Framed!

By Jody Worsham

All rights reserved to purchase antique copies of TV Guide

When my eight-year-old said he volunteered me as the Dynasty lady to do face painting at his school’s annual field day, I was flattered.  I had visions of a mature Linda Evans in a designer gown, dripping in diamonds painting unicorns and fairies on sweet little faces;  so of course, I said yes.   Then he asked me if I knew how to paint a good duck, and the other shoe fell.  I lied and said yes.

I signed up for a two hour session; that way I had a way out if needed.  Face painting would involve sitting down, under a shade.  How hard could that be?  Besides, I already had my own brushes. 

I arrived early as instructed with paint brushes in hand and my Shakespeare printed apron on. My three other face painters and I were taken outdoors to a covered area with tables and chairs.  The lady in charge gave us our instructions.

“We have thirty minutes with each grade for face painting so don’t get too elaborate or take too long with each design.  Second grade will be arriving …just….about...Now.”  And we were off.

My eight-year-old was in the second grade group.  He spotted me right away.

“Here she is guys.  The best Duck Dynasty drawer ever.  Just tell her what you want.”

I went from visions of Linda Evans drawing cute Donald Ducks to Miss Kate drawing dead birds and road kill.