It’s 9:15 last Wednesday night and I’m part of a contingent of parents parked at their strategic locations in the Herscher High School parking lot.
We are doing what we parents seem to do best. We are waiting. And waiting. And waiting.
Many of us have been doing this for years. Some are relatively new at the game. To you rookies, a warm welcome to the organization of people-who-put-their lives-on-hold-and-burn-a-portion-of-whatever-time-they-have-left-on-this-earth-waiting-because-someone-else-apparently-doesn’t-respect-their-time.
If you’re new at this game, let me fill you in on a few secrets.
Number one. Your time is not important.You might as well throw your household schedule out the window. You are a victim of theft. Someone is stealing your time and it cannot be replaced.
Your son or daughter told you the practice is over – in this case – at 9 o’clock. That is a generality. Boy, is it ever a generality.
On this particular day, a 12-hour practice was apparently not long enough. At 8:57 I was pulling into the parking lot with false hopes that once, maybe once, they’d be dismissed on time.
You’d think that by now I’d know better.
The marching band is still on the practice field. The drums are beating. The end is not in sight.
This contradicts the very nature of nature of how our public school is otherwise operated.
One of the most valuable lessons taught in our schools is the subject of time. The school buses run on a schedule. Students are expected to be at their pickup point…on time. The school bell rings at the beginning of the day…on time.
Students pass from class to class according to a schedule. Bells ring to end one period and begin another…on time.
Teachers must plan their lessons according to this schedule. When that bell rings, they are not allowed to hold students over for another 15 minutes, which would cause those kids to be late for their next classes. It just doesn’t happen.
Finally classes are dismissed and the school day has ended. Again, on time.
This orchestrated effort is a thing of beauty we all too often take for granted.
Teachers and administrators plan everything from staggered lunch periods to the order in which an entire student body files into a gymnasium, all so the train runs on time.
But all too often, the element of time gets thrown by the wayside when it becomes time for after school practices to end.
Not always. Several teachers and coaches maintain that school day punctuality. If a practice runs until 5:00, the kids are in the cars by 5:02. To them, thank you.
But why can’t that courtesy be extended across the board?
At one time, the school district had activity buses which ran on schedule. That forced after-school activities to end on time.
But those buses don’t exist anymore because of budget cuts. That built-in guaranteed dismissal time no longer exists.
Maybe this doesn’t sound like a monumental crisis. But I can’t help but think that time is precious to many families in the Herscher school district which is comprised of some 250 square miles. Whenever a practice is held at Limestone Middle School, at least one student lives in the Campus area about 20 miles away. That student is expected to be ready for the bus before many of his classmates are out of bed.
Early morning hours. Night shifts. Split shifts. Church activities. Children who struggle with math homework. Each individual household has its unique routine. And punctuality on the part of time bandits would be a welcome respite.
Bless those people who put in the time for these activities and receive very little pay in return. This appeal is for their own well-being as well as those parents who are waiting out in the parking lot.
A new school year begins next Tuesday. We’ve known about that date since last winter. School will start on time. And after the usual bugs get worked out, the buses will run on time.
One class will end and the next class will begin…on time.
I urge the athletic/activity directors, principals and other administrators to issue this simple directive to their coaches and extra-curricular staff members: “Wrap it up…on time!”