One of fifteen

Just one more school day, a Monday. Those children who passed through Roslindale Square on their way to school yesterday needed a little extra time as part of the square was closed while a crime scene investigation ensued. Apparently, some sort of drug transaction went bad and two men ended up with stab wounds, the alleged attacker stabbing himself, as well as the victim. After seven people were shot over the summer on the stretch of Washington Street just behind his house, the Parent Imperfect wonders how Connie and Vince take all of this in.

Luckily, Liz and the PI did not need to go through the square on their way to Connie’s first day at the Hennigan School. Many people had obviously worked long hours to get the school ready after the unplanned renovations that delayed the opening of the school year. Red-shirted staff were stationed all around the school to help students and parents into the school for the first day, and they seemed to have things working quite smoothly.

Each school has its own way of opening. Every year, the Hernández School (where Connie attended until this year) holds a community assembly, with the principal welcoming everyone back to the school in a high-energy show that kicks off the school’s community-building efforts for the year . The Hennigan, at least under its new principal, seems to strive for simplicity. Handmade signs for each grade sat on tables in the cafeteria and students gathered at those tables. When a critical mass of students had gathered, they went together to their classrooms and school was underway. The method seemed to work well to get students to their classrooms, but the PI didn’t feel much community being built.

Not content with the the cafeteria drop-off, the PI had the audacity to walk over to Connie’s classroom to say hello to her teacher (who skipped the cafeteria scene). This gained him only the dirtiest of looks from his mortified daughter. The Hennigan is a  K-5 school, so the oldest students in the school can’t have their parents coming to class on the first day as if they were in kindergarten.

Connie seemed to have a very good first day in her class of fifteen, made up of ten girls and five boys. The average fifth-grade class size in the BPS is almost seven students great than that. For the first time since K-1, Connie is not the youngest student in her class. One of her classmates was born a couple of weeks after her, and must have also skipped a grade at some point. This younger girl immediately became C’s first friend in the class.

Without question, the highlight of the day was Art class, given in the art room by a teacher who played pleasant music as the children drew. This was a completely new experience for Connie and she loved it. In addition to Art, Connie will have weekly classes in Phys. Ed., Computers and Swimming to complement the standard curriculum.

When asked how the place was most different from the Hernández, Connie answered quickly that, “Ms. Lynch never had to shout at the kids all day. She only had to say, “Excuse me!” a couple of times to two girls who are definitely the troublemakers.”

Surprisingly, the new kid in class had only one question for her parents at the end of the first day. “Why does almost every kid on the bus get off at Archdale?” It seems that of about 30 children on her bus home, all but four piled off the bus at the corner of Archdale and Washington Streets, near a large public housing development. If you have an answer to that question, don’t hold back….share it!



Filed under Boston Public Schools

6 responses to “One of fifteen

  1. Megan

    Missed you guys a lot on that crazy first day. I felt quite nostalgic, hearing the same old strict Margarita speech, feeling like it will likely be our last time around. Thought of Vince and Nate as tiny ones, a whopping 11 years ago!

    • An as you can probably tell, the PI missed being there. Connie actually wanted to go since her school wasn’t starting, but that didn’t seem like a good idea. The most amazing thing about M’s speech is that she can still give it.

  2. Hi. Great reading! Glad to read about one BPS parent’s perspective. This post made me feel kind of nostalgic and sad. Two of my 3, now grown, kids went to AWC at the Hennigan in the late 80’s and early 90’s. Like you, the decision was made with some sense of angst that I was deserting the “regular” public education fare and population in favor of a more resourced one, in terms of class size and student background alone. But when my child came home on his first day and told me that the difference between his new class and his previous ones was that the teacher wasn’t constantly yelling at misbehaving kids, I knew I had made the right decision.

    By the way, all 3 went all the way through the BPS, K-12, in their own way. They went on to great colleges where they found that their diverse experiences of the world were much richer than most of their suburban classmates. They are now productive members of society. What more could a parent want?

    As far as the Archdale link goes, I’d venture to say that a lot of kids in the BPS are poor and some of them might live in a housing project. The Hennigan is in their zone. I wonder how many students live in Bromley Heath? They’d be walkers, an advantage for assignment.

    • Thanks, Marilyn. I think that the jury is still out on our AWC decision, but I’m happy to know that you feel that you did the right thing. Productive members of society??? We don’t have any of those around here…Seriously I know that the BPS continues to produce many thousands of great people, but we all know that it could do so much better.

      I appreciate your thought on Connie’s Archdale question. What you say is definitely true, but how to talk to a nine-year-old about why such a high percentage of kids on the bus from the Hennigan toward Roslindale get off at that corner. That was not the case with her previous school, and I think it says something about how the schools are changing…or changing back.

      Again, thanks for your comments.

  3. JonF

    Nice helicopter parenting. Try going home and letting you kid be a kid. It’s not all about you.

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