Monday, January 17, 2011

Alexander the Academically Adaptable

Xander is now attending the third public school of his short academic career. He started out at Yale Elementary School with Ms. Parker. She was a wonderful teacher—she was great at challenging Xander while still letting him just be a kid.

His reading and math buddy, Brenner, had become his best buddy and Xander was sad to leave.

And I was sad to no longer be able to say proudly that I had a son attending Yale (not to mention a son on a mission--don't I sound old?). J I also loved the diversity in his class, where no one seemed to be a minority or majority.

But Melayna’s neighborhood school offered something tantalizing that Aurora public had just gotten rid of: half-day kindergarten. I let Xander choose. “Should I stay or should I go now?” After impressing his parents by putting the question to the Lord in a very mature prayer, he chose Timberline Elementary. He quickly made a new best buddy, Matthew, who was both a school and a church friend, making him doubly cool. Mrs. Gedde was great at making school fun. They didn’t have time for “Specials” since they were only half day, but she more than made up for it with lots of fun kindergarten projects like painting and cutting and pasting. You know how Xander loves his projects! With Thanksgiving and Christmas in there, Xander only went to Timberline for 4 ½ weeks.

Then it was on to Montana.

E: Can I type my name? PLEEEEEEEASE?!

M: OK, go ahead.


E: Mom, there’s tons of Xanders on there! Why does it say that?

M: Because I’m writing about Xander’s school.

E: Oh. Can I type my name again? It’ll be so exciting!

M: I guess.


E: Now can you put a red line on there?

(I do that by pushing the space bar—it’s underlined in red because spell check thinks I spelled it wrong. Xander too. That’s probably what made all the Xanders stand out to her in here.)

E: Write something about me, not just Xander.

M: What do you want me to write about you?

E: Say, “Elodie stays home with Hazel. And that she loves Hazel.”

(Oh yeah, that's why I usually blog after the kids are in bed!)

OK, back to Montana. Elodie’s letting me type again while she does my hair. On Tuesday we went to the Sidney District Administration office, which is just the front office of Central Elementary School in Sidney. They told us that we’re in Fairview DISTRICT, not in Sidney District. I was shocked that little Fairview (population about 800, I think) has it’s own school district. But Sidney said they’d love to have us come there, and that it really didn’t matter to them if we were outside their boundaries, they just wouldn’t be able to send a bus to our door like they would if we were in district. But they really wanted to have us, so they said they’d try to work something out for us transportation-wise and give us a call back. Well, we thought the convenience of a school bus coming right to our house sounded pretty good, and if we were supposed to be in Fairview, why not check it out and make our choice? So we headed over to Fairview School. The whole Fairview DISTRICT is just one school, K-12, so the admissions are just taken care of at the school office there. After trying to locate our country road on a map, Fairview told us that we were in Sidney District, but that they’d love to have us at Fairview. We felt like Xander was being recruited! When we told them that Sidney insisted we were in Fairview Schools, they took another look and said, “Well, maybe you are then.” I asked if they had a bus that went out that far, and they said they’d just add us to Paul’s route. (In the city, they tell you that you’ll be on Bus #708. In the country, they say, “Oh, that’s Paul’s bus!”) Aaron and I looked at each other and decided right there to just go with Fairview. I mean, hey, Aaron went to that very school from Kindergarten to 12th grade! You can’t compete with that kind of nostalgia. Sorry, Sidney. It was quite nostalgic for him to be back. Aaron even ran into his old 5th grade teacher. And one of his classmates that he’d gone to school with his whole life was the secretary who was taking care of everything for us. “Xander will start tomorrow, right?” I reminded her that I didn’t have Xander’s birth certificate or immunization record with me, and I wasn’t sure how immediately his last school would fax his records. They didn’t care at all about silly little details like that. If we said that his name was Xander and that he was 5 years old, that was good enough for them. They’d take care of the rest. The lack of bureaucracy was refreshing! (It took three trips to the Cherry Creek Schools Admissions Office, one with Melayna accompanying me in person, multiple proof of address documents, a trip to my bank, and a stack of paperwork to get Xander registered at Timberline!) Before we knew it the whole family was on a tour of the school, meeting his new teacher, Mrs. Holst, and checking out the huge mountain of snow on the playground. (Where they have recess as long as it’s 0 degrees or above. So you’d better wear your full snow suit to school every day because chances are, you’re going outside! In Colorado, they have indoor recess if it’s below 20 degrees. And they just watch a movie. Out here, they get to run around in the “old gym” when it’s indoor recess. I love it! Guess what? Xander has already had indoor recess twice, meaning the high those days didn’t even reach zero. Yikes!)

Later that evening when we were at Bill and Melody’s house celebrating Dexter’s birthday, we were telling them that Xander would be starting at Fairview school the next day. Their youngest son, Jordan, still goes there. He’s the star of the varsity football team. And both Jordan and Chelsea remembered Paul well--he’d been their bus driver for years. This Paul fellow was supposed to be giving us a call to let us know when he’d be by to get Xander in the morning, but we hadn’t heard from him yet. Aaron’s cell phone reception is pretty patchy out here, so we weren’t sure if we’d actually get that call. Bill thought we oughtta just call him right up. Before we knew it, Chelsea had the phone book out and was on the phone telling Paul that her little cousin was now on his bus route. After Bill described to him just how far out we live, Paul said he’d be there around 7:05. Melody suggested that I ride the bus with Xander on his first day. That never would have occurred to me—I don’t think they let moms do that in the city. It sounded like a great idea to Xander, so I climbed aboard Wednesday morning. Xander is the first one on the bus. By far. This Paul definitely had to go out of his way to get us. And guess what we saw right as we were driving back down our country road to the Highway? A Sidney School Bus. Yep, we’re definitely supposed to be in Sidney District, but Paul didn’t seem to care and we think it’s fun that Xander is going to Dad’s old school, so too late now! After about 15 or 20 minutes, a couple of high school girls got on. The sun was just coming up, and the drive was really quite beautiful. On one road, there were six deer running down the road, right in front of the bus. Paul slowed way down and followed them until they finally leapt off of the road into the trees. We wound around some more and a few chatty elementary school girls got on, filling me in on all of the goings on at Fairview School. This little first-grader told me impressively, “There are TWO kindergarten classes!” Her tone of voice indicated that this was quite a novelty at Fairview school—having two teachers in the same grade! She said there’s only one first grade teacher, and there are 16 kids in her class. There are 14 in each of the kindergarten classes. Sounds like quite a boom in comparison! As we were chatting, we felt the bus slip and slide a bit. Paul had gone a couple miles down this particular snow-packed dirt road, and its condition was getting worse. “I’m not sure if I can get through this road today. I’m going to go check it out.” So Paul climbed off of the bus and walked out ahead down the road a hundred yards or so to the crest of the hill. When he got back on the bus, he declared that he couldn’t make it, but he also had nowhere to turn around right there. So he began backing up. He backed down the road for a mile or so before he got to an oil well where an area big enough for a bus to turn around was cleared. Then he got on his CB to tell the school that he couldn’t make it to these kids and would they please call them to let them know. Riding the bus was quite an adventure, definitely a worthwhile country experience! I’m so glad Melody thought of it! It’s kind of a long bus ride for him, about 50 minutes each way, but I guess that’s just part of the experience.

When he got home from school that first day, he told us he’d already made some friends. I’m so grateful that he’s an adaptable guy! Adjusting has been no big deal to him. (He was even invited to a birthday party at the Sidney gymnastics center that first week. People here are SO NICE. We all had a great time at the party—the kid’s mom let Elodie stay, so I hung out there, too, and got to meet the moms of Xander’s classmates.) He loves Mrs. Holst and she’s been great at trying to find just the right reading level to stretch Xander without discouraging him. They have Specials twice a day and three recesses, as well as daily snack time and resting time on mats a couple times a week. It is very kindergarteny and fun and Xander says school was, “Great!” everyday. His only complaint? “I wish school was half day.” Not that he doesn’t like it while he’s at school, he just loves having blocks of time to play with his Legos and do as he pleases. School is once again cramping his style. J His bus ride is so long that he doesn’t get home until just after 4:00. Plus, he has to wake up way earlier than before (6:30 instead of 7:30 or 8:00—Yale didn’t start until 9:35) so after dinner it’s pretty much right into the bedtime routine. He really only has an hour of Lego time. Sorry, bud, those leisurely preschool days are behind you! Although when we go back to Colorado in May for Aaron's two weeks of wrap-up seminars and graduation, I don't think it's worth it to re-register Xander in school there for the last few weeks of school. So he'll get to knock off early and enjoy an extra long summer before embarking on his next elementary school adventure who knows where!


merathon said...

okay-- that was a crazy bus story! how long do you think the bus ride would be if he went to sidney? i have to say it does surprise me that it is full-day kindergarten in a little country-bumkin town of 800 people! you might need to get him some earplugs so he doesn't learn any new words from the highschoolers on the bus! :)

Rachel Sorber said...

Wow. That's great. We're way out in the country here and have a small school for 3-12 year olds with only 100 kids. It's really fun to know all the other parents and kids so well, and to feel like you're part of a little family. Since we're just out of the district for the school the girls attend, I drive them in and out every day, which is a lot of driving, but still fun. It keeps me connected with the school really well. I'm excited for you--what a great adventure.

Maryann said...

Wow, I can't believe I read the whole thing - but the suspense kept me going. I love the interruption in the middle! Way to go Xander at being adaptable!

Sarah said...

What a wonderful kid! I'm glad you're enjoying the country life there so much! It sounds like it's going to be a fun four months for you guys there.

Mirien said...

That was a great story--I loved all the details. Xander has had lots of experiences in his short life. And I'm remembering that our bus ride from Camby to Plainfield was about 45 minutes each way--first on, last off. Melayna, Meredith--remember that?