The Goddess Speaks
Yearbook camp was bonding experience for teacher and students
This year, as I have so many other years, I spent a weekend at a yearbook camp with 20 of my students, and about 80 from other high schools. All but three of my kids were rookies to yearbook, which meant I did not know them well and, in fact, would not have been able to recognize some as my students. This posed a huge risk in terms of security, but I decided to go ahead with attending camp and hope for the best.
The best happened. These young men and women got themselves to school for bus pickup by 7:30 a.m. on a Saturday, were on time for every meal and in the right rooms for bed check, did not use profanity all weekend and organized themselves into teams for all events.
They were polite, helpful and funny. I wasn't really surprised at this, but I wish that the community at large could see how wonderful the kids are who attend our public schools.
My experience with kids in Hawaii high schools, where I have been teaching for nearly 20 years, is that for the most part students try hard, practice good ethics and want to learn. I know many teachers who truly enjoy their jobs.
There's laughter and stories and hanging out in their classrooms, and the kids have nicknames for their teachers that speak of affection and family.
It's true that some teachers don't share my enthusiasm for the teenage mind, and truthfully, I think they must hate their jobs. I love my job, and I ignore the dire predictions about mischief and mayhem. Simply put, I trust my students and they trust me. Generally this works out well for all parties concerned.
This is not to say that kids behave in all instances like mature adults. For one thing, they have a tendency to have great ideas that work for them but not for any sensible grown-up.
For example, my yearbook crew got hungry at 10 p.m., despite a huge Italian dinner of frightening recency, and ordered up pizza to be delivered to their hotel rooms. The pizza arrived late, the kids were running all over Makaha Resort trying to locate the pizza man, I ended up grumpy and tired, and I had to delay bed checks to allow for sausage, cheese and dough.
On the other hand, the kids were up bright and early for breakfast (honestly, just feed the average teenager and they'll do anything for you) and lost only one of 14 room keys, one jacket and one pair of shoes. The police didn't come, and when we arrived back home somewhat the worse for wear, I unloaded a bus full of tired but bonded kids, who were more than ready to begin the yearlong grind of creating a yearbook and serving their school.
I think that's a pretty good trade-off for a few more gray hairs and some lost sleep.
Cris Rathyen teaches English at Moanalua High School.
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