Woodworking: How many chances does a kid need before learning responsibility is forever lost?I recently read that one of the Twin Cities school districts has proposed a plan to ease the intense pressure suffered by today’s grade and high school students.
By: Dave Wood, columnist, River Falls Journal
I recently read that one of the Twin Cities school districts has proposed a plan to ease the intense pressure suffered by today’s grade and high school students.
I can’t remember what school administrators call the plan, but I call it “Second Chance Busing.”
Here’s how it would work: The district’s school bus drivers would make their rounds as they now do. But when their routes are finished, the drivers would start over again and cover the same ground one more time.
Why, patient reader, would they do that? Fuel is expensive, drivers don’t work for nothing.
They would do it twice to give students who overslept a “second chance” at getting to school, where they would learn all kinds of important stuff to prepare the to be our leaders in the generation to come.
Admittedly, our country has been blessed with quality leaders over the years. And some of them, like Abraham Lincoln and George Washington didn’t even have a “first chance” to ride the bus.
As I recall, poor Abe walked to school and rich George rode a thoroughbred steed. But they both got there under their own power.
I matriculated at Larkin Valley state graded school 70 years ago today. I waited on our stately porch in Rat Coulee, clutching my Mickey Mouse lunch bucket, until my fellow students arrived swinging their silvery syrup pails.
There was Irene Stensby, an eighth grader, and seventh grader Lester Luken, an orphan boy who stayed at Stensby’s.
And off we went down the shale road toward Oscar Anderson’s farm. There we picked up the other first grader, Barbara Plunkett, who had two braids that hung like frankfurters down to her shoulders.
Like me, she was new to the Coulee of Rat, and needed the guidance of the upper classmen to make it to Larkin Valley. We took a right and climbed the steep hill south of Anderson’s place.
Arriving at the top, we walked through a dense forest that sheltered the yellow road, a leafy chapel.
After about a mile, we walked down the hill and at a fork picked up fourth grader Donny Borreson, a street-smart no shale road-smart kid who would get me out of jams in the year to come.
We walked another mile and there was Larkin Valley School, a yellow brick structure that matched the dusty road we had just traveled.
We were met by the new schoolmarm, Miss Adella Hanson, a city girl from Whitehall, and two Larkin Valley kids, Leland Drangstveidt and a redheaded second grader, Ms. Klebig, so shy I can’t remember her first name.
That was the entire student body and faculty.
We stood by the lilac bush and Miss Hanson led us in the Pledge of Allegiance, which my mother had coaxed me to memorize the week before.
I got through that and we were ushered into the little building where we sat in rows.
Ms. Plunkett and I were in the first row, by the piano. Then came Klebig in the second, then Leland Drangstveidt in the third, Donny Borreson in the fourth, no one in the fifth or sixth, Lester Luken and Irene Stensby in the seventh and eighth.
And thus my education began, without benefit of either a first- or a second-chance bus.
Miss Hanson passed out Dick-and-Jane Readers and we dug in. At noon, I dug in my Disney-inspired lunch bucket and the other kids dug into their syrup pails.
In the afternoon we studied some more, had recess during which we played “long ball,” sort of a cross between kitten-ball and cricket without a wicket or a backstop or an Estonian accent. More studies and at four p.m. Miss Hanson bade us farewell.
Off we headed down the dusty road, Donny lectured me on sexual matters, about which I knew nothing and didn’t even after he finished, before we dropped him off at the bottom of the hill.
I whispered to him that I had to go to the toilet. Donny said “Go in those sumac bushes.”
Having just moved from Eau Claire I didn’t know how to do that without a porcelain toilet. Donny helped me with my cursed Oshkosh B ’Gosh suspenders, and I managed to do my chore without making too much of a mess.
Up and over the hill we went and I arrived pretty much unscathed, ready for another day in the groves of academe.
When winter rolled around we prayed for deep snow, in which case my father or Mr. Stensby or Mr. Plunkett hauled us to school in style, in horse-drawn sleighs redolent of cow manure.
Not exactly a Currier & Ives engraving, but we thought we were in deep clover, er, deep snow.
Dave would like to hear from you. Phone him at 715-426-9554