Kelvin caught me outside reading on my lawn chair along side the house. Older retired guys do things like that. And younger guys like Kelvin (around 12) sometimes hustle older guys for jobs. Kelvin comes around because earlier this year, I succumbed to his sales pitch which was him simply asking if I needed any help as I was doing some mundane yard work.
Anyway, I don’t like yard work and Kelvin works for little money and a little candy — no benefits. A perfect match.
Though we’re more than half a century apart in age, what we do have in common is school. I’ve been in school for the vast majority of my life and Kelvin has just started the sixth grade, which is the grade in which I first began my teaching career.
Kelvin is new to town so it is his first year at Wentworth Junior High, a school I support with my taxes. I’m hearing he likes his school and things are going well.
I’m a little envious. This is the beginning of my third year of not teaching full time, though I did get to do the first three days of the school year at St. Francis de Sales as a sub. Cool.
Kelvin’s good start is good news. Not all news about education these days is positive. How’s that reorganization in Chicago going? Why are so many districts having to squeeze staff? How many tests can we ram down kids' throats and how good are those tests at evaluating the level and learning of individual kids and of whole systems anyway?
But I’ll leave that alone. The beginning of a new school year is a time for optimism and high hopes. One of the advantages of our too long summer vacation from school is that it tends to make kids ready and happy that school is starting again ... even if they all won’t readily admit to it, especially the older ones.
It’s good to see the importance of school recognized in the number of groups and organizations that are ready to help with the supplies that are necessary for school.
Although we are certainly not alone, my church, St. Victor in Calumet City, through its Victor Care organization, supplied many needy families with school supplies donated in ample supply by its parishioners.
Congrats to Jeannie Garritano who has organized a school supply event for Victor Care of St. Victor parish. She’s been at it for 14 years. She took over the operation from old Cal City stalwarts Cindy and Clarence Zick. Victor Care has been helping kids get a good start on their school year since the late '80s.
A crew of Garritano’s and my former students — Jessica Rising, Amanda Perniaro, Cynthia Baron, Lisa Keilman, and Connie Peulecke — have staffed the operation since the summer of their eighth-grade year. This was the 12th year for that crew. It does one’s heart good.
Here’s to a great school year.
A SAD PASSING
Friend, neighbor, second mother to my sons, and all around loving and gentle person, “Aunt” Dorothy Chuchla was taken too early by cancer last week.
Dorothy cared for her parents until they passed. And then she took care of her widowed uncle until he passed. She was an infectious optimist and a kind and caring soul. Though never married and without children, that she touched so many lives was evidenced by the large number of people at her wake and funeral services.
Rest in peace, Aunt Dorothy.
Trivia Nite Out will be Sept. 14 at St. Victor church hall. A little bit of a challenge and always a lot of fun. Contact me for details.
Thanks for reading.