Teaching school is a tough way to make a living. It is rewarding -- but tough. It is especially tough in the spring time, if you happen to teach high school students.
As an aside, I am amazed to hear my colleagues claim to teach math or history or science or some other subject. If that's your aim you are behind the eight ball to begin with. You'd better be teaching young people, first and foremost. But I digress.
If you teach high school students, as I do, you are about to be busier than a one-armed paper hanger in a wind storm. Is it still OK to say one-armed, or is that politically incorrect?
My point is, there is lots going on this time of year. AP exams will start in a week or so. Kids with such rigorous schedules should be spending lots and lots of time reviewing the year's course of study and preparing for their tests.
That's tough, though, because there are so many other activities going on this time of year. It is playoff time, for instance, for spring sports -- and there are a lot of spring sports. Baseball, track, soccer, tennis, golf -- you name it and somebody is leaving school early to go play it this spring. And there are spring musicals and band concerts and choral concerts and awards programs -- not to mention try-outs for next year's squads and teams. Oh, yes --elections are being held, too, along with final projects and research papers and -- well, you get the idea. It's a busy, busy time of year.
Please don't hear something that isn't being said. I am not against any of these activities or extracurricular pursuits. Making memories has always been an important part of life, from where I sit. High school is merely a microcosm of life and students make more memories in the aforementioned activities than in chemistry lab or math class.
I know, I went to high school, way back in the previous century.
And if there were not already enough distractions to worry about, we are also knee deep in prom season. Take it from someone who knows. Proms have come a long way since the 1960s.
When I was in high school our proms were held in the school gymnasium. It was a big deal, but not in the same way proms are a big deal now. The junior class was responsible for raising the money to put on the prom. Magazine sales and car washes and the like were the main sources of income, if my memory serves me correctly. Once the junior class had raised enough money to buy chicken wire and tissue paper and streamers for the decorations -- and a little more to pay a local garage band to perform and a little more still to buy some punch and other light refreshments, all that was left was to decorate the facility.
Most guys had begun renting tuxedos for prom by the time I was a senior but many still showed up in white sports coats -- with or without a pink carnation -- and more than a few wore their Sunday suits.
Everybody drove to the prom in those days and I don't recall anyone going out for a five-course dinner beforehand. I doubt if anyone in my class spent more than $50 on prom night.
I have chaperoned dozens of proms in my 38 years as an educator and footed the bill for my own three children to attend two or three of the events themselves. Let me assure you, it ain't like it used to be.
The events are pretty much choreographed these days, beginning with the invitations. A guy can't just go up to a girl and ask her out anymore. He has to come up with a spectacular and creative way to pop the question -- as if he were proposing marriage. I haven't actually seen a plane fly overhead pulling a banner with a prom invite, but I have heard of such.
Then there is all sorts of drama about who is going to be in whose "group." The War Between the States was more civil than some of these negotiations.
The girls have to buy their dresses first because the boys' accessories are required to match -- and Henry Kissinger never made such deliberations as prom groups choosing their mode of transportation. Hang out in front of any prom venue and you will see all manner of livery and limousines that you didn't know existed.
For many students the dance is merely an afterthought, overshadowed by the pre-prom photo session, the five-star restaurant for dinner and the post-prom party. Five hundred dollars is nothing for many of the kids to spend on prom night and a grand is not out of the question. Not for my children, understand, but for many.
Oh well, all the playoffs and spring activities -- and proms -- will soon be over and it will be time for final exams and then summer vacation. Summers have been getting shorter and shorter lately, but I have a feeling this next one is going to be a long one.