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Heidi Chronicles IV

Beware the middle school. Especially if the local middle school is 1100 students for 3 grade levels and is the geographic gathering point for the western part of the county. I have to admit, my 9-12 junior/senior high school experience was about that many students over a 4 town regional school in the "country" of western Mass.

The administration is all worried about bullying and belonging, which is fine. They seem a wee bit weak on other aspects of middle school life, though. The principal's license plate is "QueenBee" if that says anything to you. It sure does to me, despite the school's mascot being hornets. This was originally a school for 8/9 grades, but now that we have a second high school, it has been realigned to 6, 7, 8 graders. This is only the second year of the change and I think some tweaking is still in order.

For example. They send home oodles of rules and regulations. Every child MUST buy a gym uniform. Oops, we hope our size smalls arrive this week. Please send in your child with $10 to buy their uniform. Which they are not allowed to alter in any way and which must be worn for gym class. Oh and btw, we have a dress code that says you're not allowed to wear any clothes to school that could interfere with carrying out any physical activity required of you.

Exhibit 1: Miss E in her issued gym uniform.

Miss E was apparently issued their smallest size, which is Girl's Large 14-16. In the first place, most 6th graders are 11 years old (Miss E is 12). In the second place, Miss E is, granted, 2nd percentile in height and weight for her age. Which still makes her smaller than most 11 year olds, too.

Exhibit 2: An extremely blurry shot of The Shorts. (You'll get the idea. I couldn't get her to put them on a second time in order to take the photo again.)

I wouldn't let her wear the shorts. She showed up to gym class in the t-shirt THEY GAVE HER FOR $10, and the gym teacher said "my, that's a bit big on you." No lie. What? They couldn't look at her when they gave her the uniform and realize how big it would be? Not to mention they had been saying to the kids "just wash it in hot water to shrink it" and "there's a cord for the shorts that you can pull tight to keep them around your waist."

Uh-huh. And a week later at Back to School Night, the gym teachers said "there are a lot of small sixth graders this year. Just go buy them a gray t-shirt and navy shorts." Which is against the rules they sent home. And of course, by then, there weren't any left in the local stores because, gee, this uniform is county-wide and other schools are probably less insistent that parents use ONLY the issued uniform. I did find something close and it certainly fits better and she looks appropriate and can participate without risking tripping over her own clothes. (And they worry about bullying and teasing...)

There are other issues. Such as Miss E riding the bus home and there's no scheduled time for her to be dropped off and no notification when the schedule is changed and she has to go to the high school first (which is a half mile away) and wait 20 minutes to be dropped off. This happened the second week and I was frantic because I had no idea where she was or if she thought I was picking her up at school and I discovered no one answers the phone at the school after dismissal. We have worked this issue out...for now. The ultimate solution will be for Miss E to have her own cell phone, but she's the one who wants to wait on that.

Oh and here's a lovely photo of Miss E as the flower girl at a wedding on Cat Valente's (catvalente) island in August (or Why-I-Missed-Almost-All-of-Worldcon-This-Year).

Frog Out


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 23rd, 2011 11:39 am (UTC)
Just go buy them a gray t-shirt and navy shorts." Which is against the rules they sent home.

I read the opening of the gym uniform saga and said to myself, "Why don't they just do what our middle school does, which is, to say we have uniforms available you can buy, but you can just have a dark colored shorts and t-shirt for gym, the important bit is dressing out.?" Obviously it took them a while to get to that place, huh.

Also, I'm with you, "Queen Bee" sets off red flags for me. But she might be okay. I found that our middle school principal seemed to walk around just bleeding contentless platitudes--every newsletter home, every phone or website update, every speech at every event just bleah colorless, meaningless smarm. But then I had occasion to hear him seriously answer a question a parent had about an incident that had happened at school involving some racial harrassment, and he mentioned talking to the kids and starting off talking about his own privilege as a white guy (though he didn't use those words at all) and I thought, "Okay, this guy is smarter than he seems."

I hope your Queen Bee turns out to be more than she seems, too.

her own cell phone

Yeah, this is how we've dealt with the bus since Paidhi Girl hit sixth grade. (Here it's a "sixth grade center" the whole district attends, and then the middle school for the district). I felt kind of silly since the stop is, like, three blocks from the house but it's actually come in handy for times when the bus was insanely late, or had broken down, or whatever. And it sounds like you guys' bus schedule is...a bit weird. Though, I try not to assume that people (whoever) don't know what they're doing because I'd do it differently--after all, I'm not doing it, and presumably they have reason for doing it the way they do, but honestly, when it's "Sometimes random days wait at the high school for twenty minutes before continuing home" that doesn't strike me as very smart.

And Miss E looks lovely in her flower girl dress! But you already knew that.
Sep. 23rd, 2011 01:01 pm (UTC)
Had they not sent home the crazy rules for gym class, that's what I would have done. Because I know she's very, very petite. But they kept saying they had ordered "small" uniforms and that uniforms were "required." (I'm a rule follower. Rules are my friend in a morass of social stuff I just don't get otherwise.) It turned out that "small" was this "large" size. Me? I think they never changed the sizes they ordered when they went from being an 8/9 school for the entire western county to a 6-8 school. That would be a "small" size for girls in 8th and 9th grades.

Other parents told me they got out their sewing machines and modified the uniform regardless of the rules and no one said anything. They have older kids and roll their eyes at the administration. I have just the one.

I sure hope one-on-one the Queen Bee turns out to be ok. But I listened to her tease and put down her assistant principal (a woman) at our very first orientation last spring, while NOT putting down the male members of the administration. I also listened to her put down the mothers. "Who cries the most on the first day of school? The mothers," she said. And "I don't know about you moms, but when my children were in school, I didn't have time to leave my job to bring their lunch to school." "Don't worry about your precious daughters having a male head of the 6th grade. He has a daughter so he knows all about girls." She set my hackles up. I've met women like her.

A cell phone is the answer and it's not like I don't want her to have one. She's the one choosing not to and I'm trying to respect that. It would be so convenient when we're at a cat show or something not to have to hover and let her do her own thing.
Sep. 23rd, 2011 03:03 pm (UTC)
The bus is interesting. They post the morning schedule, but not the afternoon schedule. I talked to a bus driver (wife of our mechanic). She said that's the county's practice and arrival times in the afternoon vary widely. Miss E is on a mixed bus of middle and high school kids. So two schools, two different bell times. Eventually, she'll walk up the half mile drive by herself. But for now, the personal attention of waiting at the street is a tradeoff for taking a bus.

They let her phone me yesterday at first bell to say that she'd been told to get on a different bus and go to the high school again and could I just pick her up at school instead? I could and I did and I picked her up at the time I would have arrived had it been planned. And we got home ahead of the changed bus schedule.
Sep. 23rd, 2011 05:28 pm (UTC)
Wow. They do that here, too, they give us a pickup time but no dropoff time--but since they don't mix the schools, or change the routes, the dropoff time has a fairly obvious ballpark after the first week or so. I wonder why your district's schedule is so changeable? At least, at a half-mile, Miss E can walk when she's ready. That's a good thing. We're only barely in walking distance for one of the schools in the district, and I sometimes wish we were closer.

Paidhi Girl didn't want a cell phone either, though it turned out the trick was to get her one exactly like mine and Mr Leckie's. She rarely uses it, says she doesn't like to use it. A friend taught her how to text, and so now she texts me for routine communications. (Got to school, leaving school, staying late, etc.) Puts my mind at ease nicely.

Paidhi Boy, on the other hand, wanted the most expensive, feature-filled phone we would allow, which wasn't much, and yearns for an iPhone, which is definitely not in the cards!
Sep. 25th, 2011 01:23 pm (UTC)
I went to Loudoun Cty schools back in the day, and our standard-issue gym outfit was a bright yellow T with black shorts. Which would've been fine for an urban district but with a 99% white population at the time the colors were just unflattering on EVERYONE. And the uniforms hung off the small kids back then, too. I think one girl had a T that hung nearly to her knees, it was her "gym dress".

Miss E looks lovely in her white dress for the wedding! Does she like dressing up?
Sep. 25th, 2011 01:47 pm (UTC)
Oh, that's right! You were an eastern Loudoun Sterling girl! What an ugly gym uniform that would be. Loudoun is definitely NOT 99% white any longer, esp. Sterling.

She's not into dressing up, but she's into style. The girls don't do much of the dressing up, not yet. She's beyond her princess phase and into her tweenie phase. But she's graduated beyond that too. She's into color and likes Vogue. She likes Ann Taylor's styles. But she also marches to a different drummer and will be more of a trend-setter than a trend-follower. So there were these conversations by email with the bride to select the dress she wore in the wedding. The bride wore a Vera Wang, but her bridesmaids and Eloise were dressed more for comfort and dash than traditional wedding frou-frou.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )