At the staff meeting this morning, the principal told us that we would be on a half-day schedule.”It’s homecoming day at the high school,” she said, “and I’ve gotten permission for our students to be at the parade.”
All of my lesson plans for a full-day schedule suddenly went by the wayside.
This was the first time that most of us had heard of the principal’s plan and we were not happy about having to rearrange our schedules on such short notice.
“I’m sorry,” said the principal, “but by the time I got back to the building yesterday afternoon from the administrators meeting, most of you were gone.”
“Well, that’s nice,” I muttered to another teacher after the meeting ended, “but she could have sent out an e-mail Thursday, warning us that we might be on a half-day schedule today.”
I was not looking forward to riding on the school bus and then standing in the blazing sun for over an hour. Neither were many of my colleagues.
But after lunch, we did what we were told, boarded the buses and headed over to the high school. Shortly after our middle school students arrived, buses bearing the elementary students pulled into the parking lot.
As the K-12 students lined up along the road in front of the high school, a siren shrieked and the parade began.
It wasn’t much as parades go: no marching band, no majorettes, no football players in uniform flexing their muscles. Only a fire truck, a handful of floats and a car with a couple of security guards tossing candy to the kids.
Despite the paucity of floats and the lack of lively marching music, I was suddenly transported back to my own childhood when parades were magical events and wondrous things could happen. Once, in Hugoton, Kansas, I got within a yard or so of Buddy Heaton’s bucking buffalo, when the wild-eyed beast charged from the street onto the sidewalk where I was standing with several of my classmates. Buddy had a hard time reining in the snorting, slobbering critter. What a thrill!
My rancor toward the principal began to melt away. Sure, she should have given us at least 24 hours’ notice about a possible half-day schedule, but why hold a grudge on this gorgeous, autumn day?
I pulled my camera out of my pocket and began to take pictures: little kids clapping excitedly as the bright red fire engine rumbled by; middle-schoolers scrambling for candy thrown from passing floats; three of my former students, now in high school, hiding their faces from the camera’s lens, as though they were celebrities and I were an annoying paparazzo.
Surrounded by hundreds of excited students, I found myself silently thanking the principal for her unexpected gift. (I’ll thank her in person when I see her Monday morning.)
Who wants to be cooped up indoors on a Friday afternoon when the sun is shining and there’s not a cloud in the sky? What better excuse to get outdoors than to see a homecoming parade?