One of my teachers passed away in the Fall of 2009 after a relatively short battle with cancer. She had taught at Northern Hills for 8 years, but her kids had gone to the school before that and she had been a PTO mainstay and almost daily volunteer. We wanted to find a way to remember her, and her family wanted to give something to the school she loved so much. Some colleagues and friends of hers decided that a gazebo on the playground would be the perfect way to honor Sue. Under its roof, kids at recess could enjoy the shade, write in their journals, draw a picture, trade Pokemon cards, etc. Teachers could bring their kids out during the day and use it as an outdoor classroom. Our school playground also serves as a neighborhood park, so many community members could enjoy the gazebo amongst the plants and flowers we plan to put in this spring.
The dedication ceremony for the gazebo is this coming Friday, May 13, so several of us have been busy getting the landscaping done in time. I stopped by school this Sunday morning to prep the site for the decorative pavers that I’ll install later this week. As I walked up to the site, I noticed that someone had used mud to write a message on the concrete pad of the gazebo. My first assumption was that someone had written something inappropriate, like I’ve seen with most vandalism on school property. I was wrong, but so relieved and uplifted to be wrong. Some kind little person wrote, “I love Northeren HIlls. The school is nice.” I have the same thoughts about the school and I know Sue did as well. I took a look around the playground to see who might have authored it and spotted a shy little boy who attends my school. He had a stick in his hand and was doing some additional messaging on the basketball court. This little guy is a first grader who worries more than a first grader should, but evidently he feels good about where he goes to school. Sue taught first grade and I know that she would have been a great match for this fellow.
I know we aren’t supposed to seek religion at public schools, but that doesn’t stop spirituality from seeking, finding, and reassuring us.