See Saws and Red Brick School

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The Story

A few years ago, I visited some of my relatives in my hometown. Before returning home, my youngest daughter and I visited the school I attended during my formative years. It was a shell of what it used to be. The most prominent part of the old schoolhouse remaining was its entrance. Although most of the structure had been demolished, the brown brick front of the school stood majestically against the backdrop of a windy autumn day, an overcast sky after a gentle rain. A faint rainbow stretched above the school where I stood, perhaps serving as a reminder of the dreams I once had within the walls of my school. My daughter took a picture of me standing in front of my old school. It is one of my favorite pictures because, to me, it symbolizes the ever-changing educational system.

I immersed myself in all that school had to offer. I enjoyed learning and being with my friends, and I would protest anytime my aunts attempted to help me with my homework. I would cry and exclaim, “I know how to do it. My teacher showed me how.” My aunts would also take us to school with them when they were in high school. I cannot recall on which occasions this occurred. However, I can recall attending school with them and hearing their friends making a fuss over me, playing with my hair, and saying I was a “pretty little black girl.”

I remember my elementary school and its long, well-waxed wooden hallways. I can recall how small I felt in the huge auditorium and how afraid I was to walk around alone. So, I would just sit on the bottom row of the bleachers by myself until a friend or cousin rescued me. Then, I would walk around and socialize with them.

My favorite parts of my school days were reading all the books we were exposed to. The Dick and Jane series was one of my favorites. They had so much fun together. I loved the repetitive lines and the predictability of the storyline. I have not seen a copy of any of the book series since grade school, but the joy I felt while learning how to read is still ingrained in my memories. I’ll never forget how my first-grade teacher drilled us on words we had to know each week. Most of us worked extremely hard to learn our lessons so we could advance to the next reading level. It was challenging, rewarding, and made school an exciting place.

When it was time to play, it was time to play! The playground at school had a variety of recreational equipment: monkey bars, seesaws, merry-go-rounds, and of course, swings. My favorite was the seesaw and next the merry-go-round. I enjoyed being on the seesaw because it takes teamwork to operate it. And I liked the feeling of pushing my legs off the ground and being lifted in the air. I would also sit or stand on the end where I was to keep my playmate lifted off the ground until they begged for mercy. Of course, they would do the same to me, but it was all in good fun.

“See Charlie-Olivia play. See Puppy play. See Charlie-Olivia and Puppy play. Play Charlie-Olivia. Play Puppy. Play, play, play.”

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