Today, I again visited the first grade classroom, where I have the most new names to learn. I was confused, and got a few of the names switched around. The first graders were also confused about my name.
“Are you really our teacher’s Father?” one asked!
They were reviewing the alphabet, and learning the letters by learning a chant and clapping pattern. While there are some things kids learn that we forget over the years, I was still pretty solid remembering my ABCs, and joined along to help them review. While most of our students have returned and breathed new life and energy into the campus, something was missing, and I couldn’t identify it until today. After school I saw the procession of the bicycles from their storage place in the picnic pavilion. The children parked them in their rightful places in front of the homes, and now the place is looking more like it should. It does my heart good to see the smiles of glee on youngster’s faces as they pedal around Wisdom Circle.
While on my way across campus, I came across a kickball game among the Afra Home (1st-3rd grade) girls. They got excited when I jumped in to take a turn. I kicked the ball over their heads, but ran slow enough for them to throw at me and get me out between second and third bases, before I went on my way toward another meeting. While I can’t always spend long blocks of time with the students, it’s those brief moments for a little fun and joy in life that create lasting memories and give meaning to my role here.
For our school lunches in the dining hall, as well as in meals served in the homes, we have been trying to emphasize more fruits and vegetables. Parts of South Dakota, especially Indian reservation communities, are often classified as a “food desert,” which is an area where choice and variety are limited and located more than one mile from the nearest grocery store. That point was brought home to me tonight in the Speyer Home (6th-8th grade boys). One of our new students was really enjoying the bowl of freshly frozen mixed fruit set before him.
“These orange things are pretty good – what are they again?” – the answer was peaches!
It was his first experience with peaches. If we’re going to help the next generation stave off diabetes and other health issues, we need to get them to try a variety of foods rich in vitamins and minerals. Without too much homework to rush off to yet, and sports practices still a week away, the guys sat around the table without rushing off, and talked about fun things they got to do over the summer.