Last year, halfway through third grade, we got some upsetting news. St. Johns County was building three, brand new, desperately needed elementary schools. And we were being rezoned into one of them.
It was a crushing blow.
We had been at our school since Kindergarten. We were in love with the principal, with the teachers, with the curriculum. Our PTA and administration worked hard to put out the most amazing family events. We felt at home there and had been looking forward to our son finishing fourth and fifth grades in those halls before moving up to middle school.
Suddenly, that option was off the table.
Students who had one more year to go would be allowed to remain at school (however, any younger siblings would not be grandfathered in). And with the spots opening by the loss of our neighborhood almost immediately filled by other neighborhoods moving in, waivers to attend were out of the question.
Our choices? Wring our hands in distress, or start making some darn fine lemonade out of the lemons tossed our way.
Guys. I make lemonade like a boss. Here’s how.
It was hard breaking the news to our son: one of those unwanted life lessons where things aren’t fair and sometimes we just have to go with it. We acknowledged his sadness and disappointment and allowed him time to mourn the loss of the place where he has spent the last four school years.
However, we also began pointing out the exciting things to come: a brand new school. One that has a second floor (stairs and second stories are apparently a big deal in our guy’s world) and no portables (for now). New colors, new technology. A significantly smaller student body. All of these are worth emphasizing.
We regularly drive past the construction zone to keep abreast of the progress and speculate on what things will look like when it all comes together. It’s been helpful to all of us.
Our new principal is holding meetings to get parents involved in the process. We have made an effort to attend as many as possible, both for the face time with our new school head, but to make sure our input, concerns, and excitement are known. We have met to discuss the school name, the mascot, the official colors and how a new parent-teacher group will be formed. We have been promised more meetings focused on touring the new building and meeting some more of the staff.
Even if physically attending meetings isn’t feasible, it’s easy enough to get on the email lists to stay on top of important news and decisions. As the start of the 2017-18 school year approaches, new school websites and Facebook pages will go live, and updates will be coming fast and furious. In this age of technology, it’s simple to keep your finger on the pulse of the activity to come.
With students coming together from several different schools and communities, there are even more great ideas to go around. From fundraisers to events, it’s the perfect time to brainstorm and pool new concepts to make our new school a huge success. Since we will be starting from scratch, the only way to get things on the radar is to introduce them to the administration and the PTA and help push them through.
There are going to be bumps on this road. Things will be different, but a little flexibility and grace will go a long way. We are all in this together, on the same team and working towards the same goal.
The last day at our “old” school was bittersweet. We are leaving behind some great friends and wonderful memories in those halls of learning. But there are new friends to make and great adventures to be had, and we are going to do our best to make the most of it.