Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Is that Manure?

Today fires in the San Gabriel mountains (I think) have caused Los Angeles to be covered in a cloud of pungent, hot smoke. The temperature is high, and even walking from the library to the classroom building is extremely uncomfortable. Now add in manure.
For some reason, the school district has chosen this last week of August, one of the hottest of the year, to spread truckloads of manure over our school's PE fields. Particulates are flying through the air, mixing with the smoke and the heat to create a wall of hot stink. A few minutes ago the bell rang for lunch. More than a thousand children poured out of their (mostly) air conditioned classes to eat the fried, greasy, school-issued lunch in the heat and manure. They are almost all wearing heavy, black hooded sweatshirts which they refuse to take off. This is the only personalized clothing item they can get away with and still be in uniform, so they insist on wearing them no matter the conditions.
After they get properly sweaty and steamed up, the bell will ring again and they will march back into windowless classes (or the library) to sit and cook for the next three hours. They will smell and the rooms will heat up to the point that there might as well not be AC at all.
Sometimes this job is disgusting.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Pesky Little Bloggers

This year, my friend Jimmy and I took over the school's Yearbook class. Hm. We aren't sure that was a great idea. Neither of us really cares all that much about yearbooks, so we decided to make a little more out of it. We now call it Yearbook/Media, and we've created a student news blog. Our kids are writing editorials, conducting interviews, writing reviews, composing polling questions, acting as photographers. It's pretty great.

We set up a system of Elders, four 8th grade students each assigned a caseload of reporters. They check in on the stories, edit, and finally publish. This is all happening using Google Docs and Blogger. There is no paper in sight. We are happy.

So check out the Laams School News blog in its fledgling youth (only two days old!). My favorite article so far is called "Educational Institution...or Juvenile Detention?" It's a bit of a spoof, and the photography is fantastic.