Monday, September 28, 2009

There Should Be A Stirring Song Or Poem...

Today was the day. I know you all look forward to it. You probably didn't sleep much last night wondering how it would all come together. It's kind of like Christmas Eve except for the presents, carols, food and happiness...

Every year certain schools in our district must perform Evacuation Drills. In the event that we ever need to flee the building to safety, it is important that we know how to walk five thousand children in a line down the road. So we practice it.

There is a great deal of pre-evacuation activity prior to the actual forced march. We get a lot of emails and reminders. This does no good since we all forget about the drill until ten minutes before it is time to drag the kids down the road. Then we have to close all the windows, shut off our computers and try to figure out how to adjust our lesson plans to account for the lost time. Grade level teams will change their schedules at the last minute and no one will know where they are going for the rest of the day.

Today's drill did not go badly if you put it all in perspective. Frankly it's the perspective that keeps me from dodging into the woods and running until I can run no further. First, we all assemble in the parking lot with our respective students. We stand there for a while until someone decides we should start marching and then we begin the trek down the road to the Grade 5/6 school. Some staff people are given bright orange vests and red signs. They have to stop traffic so passers-by can all get a nice view of us huffing and puffing along.

These people are also part of the perspective process because getting that job would be the last thing this school district would ever do to me. Right after they handed me my vest, I'd be locked in the bathroom trying to drown myself in the toilet.

We make a fine sight, all moving along in coordinated chaos and with the school nurse bringing up the rear toting her emergency kit. We march down the road, yell at the children to get out of the road, cross another road (thanks to the vested people and a police car complete with flashing blue lights) then we traverse a dirt road. From there, it is a short hop to the parking lot of the other school and another long wait in the gymnasium where all children in wet sneakers will use them to make piercing squeaky sounds on the freshly waxed floor.

When it has been determined that we have not lost any of the children in spite of our best efforts, we exit the gym and begin the return trip. We make our way through the parking lot, travel the dirt road so the kids can find the puddles they missed on the first trip and cross the street where traffic is now hopelessly backed up and drivers are getting cranky with the vested people. Now we are back on the first road and, after a fashion, the middle school is in sight. All that is left is a short trip to our own gymnasium where we are told how we did.

There is a time limit on this, you see. We get 48 minutes. If we fail to manage this exercise in pretend panic within the stated time frame, we have to do it again on another day. A day which we will forget about as quickly as we did the first one. The final review is a tense thing indeed.

You will be pleased to know that we met our deadline and are now fully approved to drag children down the road to safety should the need arise. The community breathes a sigh of relief knowing that their children are protected from all possible harm unless they keep walking in the middle of the road during evacuation drills like we kept telling them not to.

We were almost back at the middle school when the Cheerful Teaching Assistant commented that this might replace going to the gym today. I quickly agreed and began recounting all the ways marching down the road with middle school students could benefit the body. I was really just looking for a diversion at that point. My sandals were giving me a nasty blister and my stomach had begun making gurgling noises which could only be described as ominous. I knew that my tummy pills were waiting for me in my purse back at school and that I could make it if I just didn't think about it all too much. A little lecture on the benefits of enforced cardio during the workday was just the thing.

Even with the extra walking I did today, I still came home and rode the little exercise bike, though. My tummy troubles were over thanks to the little pink tablets and I really didn't have a good excuse for not doing it. I also wanted to knit another repeat on the Invisibility Shawl and the little exercise bike is quite inspiring for that. I'm stuck pedaling away for thirty or forty minutes and need something to do that will help me forget about the exercise.

There are no people in vests or children running into the road to distract me when I ride the little bike, you see. I'm not complaining about that, mind you. I'm just making the point.

SA

12 comments:

Mel said...

I thought for a second that you were writing about Yom Kippur. You did fast, didn't you?

Kath said...

Because my town is so small, when the local preschool teachers take the tots on a trip they walk and have a long thick white rope that has rope handles all along it, The preschoolers then walk along in a line, each one holding a handle, at least one teacher in the front and one in the back, and usually one monitoring the middle. Basically looks like preschoolers on a rope!

I don't suppose you could convince your class to do that during a drill, could you? ;)

April said...

Once in a blue moon I am convinced that you have a worse job than me. Today is one of those days.

Anonymous said...

I need to borrow the exercise bike :(

And hey, that just reminded me - I don't know how old you are but do you remember the bomb drills in school where you had to crouch down with your hands over your head - like that was gonna save you in case your school got hit by a bomb... just sayin.

mia

Julie said...

I need to remember this story when I'm thinking how much my job sucks!

Karen said...

Wow it's hard to look for a bright spot in that day. I guess not having to do it again until next year is the bright spot.

Cursing Mama said...

My only question is why don't they just bus you all back to the middle school? In the event of a major panicky type event I don't think a well rehearsed return trip to the MS is really going to happen. Parents will get wind of the panicky type event and swoop down to retrieve their little darlings and there will probably be fire trucks & police cars and maybe even some fire men who rushed so quickly to the scene they didn't have time to put their shirt on over their well muscled chests...

prof m said...

Hey, I'm really impressed that you still kept the appointment with the little exercise book, because the Cheerful Teaching Assistant was right: you could have taken a bye. Three bleats for taking the high road!

Elaine said...

There are a million reasons why I could never do your job.... You are a Goddess.

Donna Lee said...

And you didn't lose one angel? What a good team!

Agatha's Gran (retired middle school teacher) said...

There is a job worse than wearing an orange vest and stopping traffic: the School Disaster Drill Committee entitled Sanitation Crew. Somehow, I always drew that one. I referred to it as the S*** List.

You keep me laughin' and enjoying my retirement, Sheepie!

knitseashore said...

I am so glad for you that you met the time requirement. If you did lose any students, would you still have to repeat the drill?

I remember doing fire drills in school, where we were never five feet from the building. If there were truly a fire, or a bomb, we all would have died anyway. Hope the local schools have upgraded that procedure!