Two years ago when Trailer High was ending its first semester, a new tradition was born. Trailers were cramped, and most of us were growing cranky and weary. Administration asked us what could be done to make school more pleasant for the students and staff. (Margarita machines were out. I asked. I think I was joking.)
I had witnessed my T.A., who was fairly new to our school system before the tornado, burst into tears when she saw a fellow classmate she hadn't seen the entire first semester. There were new teachers at Trailer High who didn't know any of us because we never saw them.
Administration came up with a plan to get us all together. Their brainstorm was to run our assembly schedule once a month, without an assembly. The 5th period, which was long with lunch in it anyway, would be one long free period. Students would eat in our cafeteria for the first 30 minutes and then have about 50 minutes to socialize.
The staff would chip in money to have our own lunch catered. Several of us rotated parking lot duty to check on students.
Watching weather forecasts was important, as students would spend their long lunch outside.
I can't begin to tell you how successful these long lunch periods were. Frisbees, footballs, and grills drew our students to the parking lot. (Yes, they were supposed to eat in the cafeteria, but many of them opted to grill hot dogs and hamburgers.) They sat in the grass or on decks. They rolled down the windows in a car and blasted the radio.
Seniors, who have open lunch anyway, had time to drive to neighboring towns and hit up Pizza Hut or other eating establishments.
Kids didn't want to screw up this privilege, so there were few behavior problems. The rules were spelled out: underclassmen had to stay on school property, and they couldn't be in their vehicles.
Eventually, Moms, Dads, and siblings began delivering pizzas or subs to their students. It really became a monthly celebration; one we all eagerly anticipated.
Most of us figured that moving into the new building might bring a halt to long lunches, but administration knows a perk when they see one.
Today, we have our first long lunch in the new school. We have a beautiful new building with a nice plaza area out front. That's where the grills are to be set up. Hopefully, some of our FFA picnic tables will put in an appearance.
I know the kids see each other now and don't need the long lunch as much as they did in trailers, but I think they look forward to an hour of just hanging out with their friends.
Survival could be the theme of today's celebration! The trailer days are done. We have a wonderful new building. We see each other in the halls and gathering areas; yet administration is still making time for us to find fun in fellowship.
See why I love my job? Tiny Town High emphasizes education, but it realizes the importance of being there for each other.
This is one tradition we started in the trailers and happily take into the new Tiny Town High.