Blogging in E minor
Usually just a bunch of silly crap.

The Last Days of Summer

police_lights_newThe roar of sirens was among the everyday distractions at our school, an alternative education facility housed in a commercial property along busy West Florissant Avenue.

          Our program had a long-standing practice of meeting with all students and their families when they enrolled with us. I had come in on a Saturday to accommodate parents who were unable to make it in during normal business hours in an effort to get more students started by Monday, the First Day of School.

          I was doing just this — meeting with a mother and her two sons — when I heard an army of emergency vehicles rushing down Canfield Drive, a residential side street along the northern edge of the property. These sirens were exceptionally loud and seemed many in number. “Something crazy’s going down,” I thought. I raised my voice to be heard above the clamor, carrying on with the meeting without missing a beat.

          I soon forgot all about the brief distraction. Again, sirens were not unusual along this busy thoroughfare in Ferguson, Missouri.ferguson-police-cars-crowd

          After my meetings, I tended to a few unfinished cleaning chores to ensure students would walk into a sparkling facility on Monday. Somebody had pummeled one of our wall-length, plate-glass windows with rocks Memorial Day weekend. Concerned students might get cut, I taped up the ever-spreading crack with duct tape. The landlord had assured me it would indeed be fixed; it was just hard finding replacement windows that large anymore, he said.  Bottles were routinely tossed over the iron fence surrounding our lot by anonymous, nocturnal passersby. I dutifully swept up the broken glass. Such was life along the West Florissant strip.
bounce house           As I took out the trash, I noticed nothing unusual other than a makeshift carnival going on in a parking lot down the street next to the Ferguson Market. The din of laughing children could be heard over loud, hip hop tunage. A generator hummed continuously, inflating a bounce house that had been precariously staked upon a steep incline. I found this strange, envisioning gravity pinning kids against the wall at the bottom as they attempted to bounce uphill in futility.

          People were out and about. The neighborhood seemed happy, carefree, and bustling on the last weekend of the summer break.

          I was really looking forward to the new school year. Three talented young teachers had been assigned to my team. They were eager to start their new jobs, embarking upon the important, challenging work before them. Already, they had made their mark on the place giving it a refreshing, cheerful look. Armed with construction paper, Sharpies, scissors, and tape, they adorned the cement block walls with inspirational quotes and positive messages. Students had good attitudes as well, for many of them were slated to graduate in the spring.

          Before I left for the weekend, I wrote “Welcome back, students!” in happy, hot pink letters on the top of Monday’s sign-in sheet in the entryway. I rolled the heavy iron gate closed behind me,Canfield crowds locked up the property, and drove off, oblivious of the world-reaching calamity that was brewing less than a quarter mile away. A crowd was gathering around the corpse of a fallen teen, gunned down by a police officer in the middle of the street two hours earlier.

To be continued . . . .


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