The kids are all right.
I had a very nice conversation with Sleepy Eye High School Principal Shane Laffen this week. I was at the tennis meet — Shane is the head coach for our River Valley Wildcats tennis team — and we were chatting a little before play began. I asked him how school was going.
Now, in my interactions with him, I’ve found Shane to be a kind of a low-key guy. He doesn’t get too worked up or overly excited.
But, in this case, Shane did get a little worked up — worked up in a good way. He said the school year is going great, with very few discipline problems, and no real issues with wearing masks.
“I think the kids are just happy to be back in school and with their friends,” Shane said.
Remember that Joni Mitchell song from 1970?
“Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
Till it's gone”
(Then they paved paradise and made it a parking lot....)
Well, maybe you don’t remember that actual song, unless you are oldish like me, but we all know that sentiment. And, now, the young people in our community, and all over the world, realize what they have at school.
At school, they are surrounded by adults who care deeply about their education, their mental and physical well-being, and their social adjustment.
At school, they have friends they will remember for life, even if they rarely ever see them again.
After being away from school since last March, the kids now understand what they’ve got there.
I know school isn’t always the happiest place for all kids. Maybe they get bullied, maybe they struggle academically, maybe they have problems in life that they feel they have to hide at school.
Maybe being back in school, after this long time away, will help more students realize they have the power to make days brighter for each other.
Maybe they will understand how much the teachers, coaches and other school staff members have their best interest at heart.
Nothing is guaranteed going forward this school year. That’s a truth that kids, and the adults in their life, must accept.
We may not get to attend games and concerts. We probably won’t be able to visit classrooms.
There may be times when the students need to return to distance learning.
It’s not easy, but it is a lesson in appreciating what we had, what we’ve got now, and what we look forward to having back someday.