a lot has changed since 1989.
when I was a fifth grader an alarm during school meant one thing…fire drill. we’d file out of the classroom… depending on the subject we’d be pretty thrilled to escape to the playground. but if it was one of the steamy hot months on the edge of summer, then we were eager to return to our desks, even if it was for math.
last week i parked at an elementary school in sammamish, washington. everything was quiet and still. i followed the curving sidewalk, still damp from morning rain, to the office. the desolate, dark and vacant office. the door was locked. i was perplexed. did i come on the wrong day? was it a school holiday? i quickly glanced at the parking lot, reminding myself of the other vehicles. i walked up the hill to the gym, only to find another locked door and silence. peering through the window i could see remnants of a heart experiment set up on some tables…
i waited for about 10 minutes before the intercom sliced through the unexpected peace. the lock down drill was complete. teachers and students were thanked for their cooperation. a lock down drill. wow. well, it is 2007. post columbine. post 9-11. post pretty much everything.
inside things quickly got back to normal. energetic bodies jumped up from the floor–they’d been told to get into groups of four. they rushed to get the best pick of partners. already, in fifth grade, lines had been drawn. there were the cool kids, the nerds, the really-nice shy kids and the chubby ones. the ones who answered all the questions. the ones with the right clothes on.. and the ones, who, in a few years, would be self-conscious of their attire. arms were linked into twos or threes… searching out the appropriate fourth. i watched as some “friends” ditched their partner for a more attractive group. leaving lonely, outcast, looked-over students scattered about.
in that moment i realized, that although so much has changed for these kids since 1989… many factors about growing-up have stayed completely the same.