Bethel Highs and a Low

There are some really cute things that happen at Rosalind’s school. Having worked there pretty much everyday until this art gig started, I also got to experience these little traditions first hand.

One: There is no place in the school building that the kids can play for any real amount of time. In the mornings the kids all hang out in the gymateria. I made that word up. It’s like a half gym. Maybe a quarter gym. It also has a serving window from the kitchen. The kids can get breakfast here, but do not get lunch here. There is no other cafeteria space. The kids eat lunch in their classrooms, usually served by an adult. In my short time at this school I have done nearly every job available, including being the lunch server on several occasions. So there are no extra spaces in the elementary school. Playing inside just means that you would take away the thirty minutes a day that the teachers get for prep/mental break from the kids. Until it reaches -20, the kids MUST go outside. What to do in the rain? Go under the building! Most buildings here are built off the ground and M.E. is no different. Half the space is used for storage and the back half is a makeshift playground. There is a board floor, chain link to keep everyone in, and four truly ancient seesaws. That’s it. The kids love it. They run from one end to the other screaming at the tops of their lungs. The recess duty teachers hate it. It’s so miserably cold and windy and loud and terrible. But I guess it’s better than losing prep time for the majority of the year. It is certainly unique.

Two: Just about every Friday at 2:15 the elementary school has Friday Showcase. I’m not going to lie, some of it is about indoctrination and stuff, but it’s still really sweet. The classes all come in the gymateria and take a seat in their designated locations. Parents are invited to watch from the back. Every showcase starts with reciting the Pledge of Allegiance to the US Flag, and also the Alaskan Flag, which is really more of a salute. This is followed by the singing of “The Grand Old Flag” and the school song. Both have hand motions the kids have to perform. Then the gym teacher has them do a couple of dances or songs that they have practiced that week in gym, usually to a theme. One week was cowboy week, one was Hawaiian, and so on. Then they have announcements and birthdays. Each birthday person comes to the front of the room and we all sing the HB song with a live accompanist on the piano. Sometimes there are additional things like a student of the month presentation, or one class presenting songs and dances from something they studied. Sergio and recently attended to watch Rosalind’s class do those things for Fire Safety week. I would show you here but we don’t have the video plan with WordPress. The showcase definitely adds to the feel of community. I don’t worry about Rosalind being lost in the crowd at that school. Or any kid. I’m pretty sure the Principals know them all by name, and know most of their family members names as well.

Three: M.E. hosts roller skating almost every Friday night. It’s probably a fundraiser. For $5 you can get skates, popcorn, lemonade, and an hour of skating around the gymateria. It’s supposed to be for Pre-K through 2nd grades but nobody gets turned away. When I take Rosalind I can’t help but channel every basketball coach I’ve ever known and have a mini heart attack about the damage being done to the gym floor. Nobody else seems particularly concerned for the gymateria floor. It’s a nice community event for a community that doesn’t have a lot of other forms of entertainment.

Sidenote: Speaking of entertaining things to do, the pool has been closed since the day after it had the grand opening. The sprinkler system didn’t make code and I’m beginning to think they are replacing the whole thing. We are beginning to learn that there are just some things that happen in Bethel and you have no recourse but to be patient and then happy when it finally works correctly. We know it happens but we aren’t so great with the accepting part yet.

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