Friday, September 3, 2010

Seeing Red (but in a good way)

I have written about my struggle to pursue a "better" school for my kids in our move to Agoura Hills and, in doing so, hoping to "pay it forward" so that they can get a kick-ass education, meet really nice friends, get good grades and go to a good (or great) college, find a career that they love and excel in it... Basically, my anxiety stems from a desire to do the right things now so that they will have happy, fruitful adult lives.

A little bit of pressure on myself, don't you think?

But finally, I am relaxing. Our kids have started at the school I chose for them and I believe, with all my heart, that it was the right choice. It just feels... right. The kids that my children have already gravitated to are nice kids, who politely introduced themselves to me and dragged their moms over, too. Not that it isn't an adjustment from the school they loved in the Valley.

The classrooms are small, my kids pointed out to me. Serena said, I'll bet my classroom is half the size of my old one.

Yeah, that's true, I said, but there are fewer students in each class. (Which is ironic for me to say because Las Virgenes has increased their class sizes to a ratio that is still smaller than the one in LAUSD; so while some parents are grumbling, I am singing praises. This increase may also be the reason our kids got into this school, which was trying to avoid split-grade classes.)

They shrugged and then told me how they could take their lunch and sit anywhere on campus that they wanted, a welcome change from their old school, where each class had an assigned table and lunch ladies who kept everyone in line. On my tour of the school, I had asked the principal about this and she'd said, They're good kids, why shouldn't they be allowed to choose their favorite lunch spot?

So this week has been about noticing the differences between what we know and what is our new normal. This morning, we remembered that Fridays are School Spirit Days at the girls' school, so they wore red shirts and prayed that other kids did the same. At 8:26 am, I got this text from Raf:

Whole school sings the Willow Pride song in the yard each Friday. It's got a lil dance to it, too. It was pretty cute. (Our girls) don't know the words so it was kind of a shock to us, but about 80% of the kids were sining and chanting P-R-I-D-E. Kinda cool.

If you've been reading this blog, you know that I loved our old school and was proud to be an involved parent there. But trying to convince other parents to feel the same way was like pushing a rock uphill, over and over. School spirit was not entirely absent, just not fervent. For high school, I lived overseas and went to schools in the Department of Defense "district" and the smaller student populations sometimes made for less-than-passionate school spirit; even my college was more of a commuter school, so great big football games and pep rallies were never an option.

Okay, accuse me of living vicariously through my kids, but something about this school spirit, with kids singing in unison and even proudly spelling out their P-R-I-D-E makes me gleeful. I saw a few SUVs driving around town this morning with Willow magnets on the back so I proudly slapped one on mine, too. If my kids are gonna be proud of their new school, Mama's gonna represent, too.

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