Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Columns

May 10, 2014

The prom, mom, and those Virginia state tests ignite emotions for a major weekend

— — Mother’s Day weekend, at least in Tazewell, is combined with prom, several spring athletic events, preparing for the state standards testing, and a major overhaul of the school system leadership. From the central office to a variety of principal and teaching positions, the times they are a-changing in this county.

Prom is always a special time at Tazewell High School. Tradition is a major part of the school (first formed in 1873 and the oldest high school in the county) and it is one of a dwindling number of schools which still takes over the gym for decoration and has a “green carpet” entrance for the students to use as they make their dramatic way into the building. In our little town, much of the citizenry will turn out to see the show which is our hometown version of the Oscars and Inauguration Day rolled into one.

This year’s prom has as its theme “The Great Gatsby” and so our English 11 classes had an even more urgent reason to review F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel earlier this spring. I even had some seniors come back to ask for a copy from last year so they could refresh their memories of the story and so get as much inspiration from the evening as possible.

As always, there are already miles and miles of tape holding things together, rolls of bunting and beautiful paper strung from wall to wall, all kinds of carpentry additions done by wonderful parents both in the gym and in the lobby area, countless strings of colorful lights to dazzle the eye and fuel the imagination, and this year there will even be a speakeasy decoration of sorts to enhance the theme of the Roaring 20s. It is almost enough to make one wish to be 18 again. (That is, until the time comes to take the decorations down so that the physical education classes can use the gym on Monday.)

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Naturally, one of the most dedicated groups assisting not only with the prom but the senior banquet, baccalaureate, graduation, and every other event, is the mothers of our students. What would any of our boys and girls do without Mom there to oversee the final details? It seems that for as long as anyone can remember, the mothers manage to do whatever has to be done to make young life (not the group but the experience) possible.

Mom is and has always been the vital backbone of family and by extension, the school experience. I have been in the education business for decades and can say with experience that when the family “gets it right” then the child will do well. My own rule of thirds is family, child, and teacher. All of them working together equals success. That family usually begins with Mom. If supper is on the table, the clothes are neat and clean, and homework is supervised, good things will follow. It is the mothers of this world who make those things happen and Tazewell is like every place — when mothers take care of things, it is a positive for this and the next generation.

Whether it is a soccer mom or any other designation, we in the school system can designate any day as Mother’s Day because we simply cannot achieve the same level of success without the ladies of the family on our side. It may be writing a check today, or picking up a sick child tomorrow, or volunteering to help with a school activity next week but there is always a need for Mom in education.

God Bless each of our mothers who sacrifice so much for their children, and for accepting the responsibility of a job that requires a seven days a week-24 hours a day, lifetime commitment with no retirement.

Happy Mother’s Day to each and every one of you who has ever been a part of this ageless process.

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As we near the end of another school year, the vast majority of teachers and students will be caught in a whirlwind of testing over the next few days. Students need to concentrate both for themselves and for their families. Passing these mandated tests in the Commonwealth of Virginia is essential to a promising future.

Children need to be alert and as healthy as possible. A good diet and proper rest makes a positive difference on test scores. Parental encouragement is always a great idea. Individuals and schools need strong results. Less television for the next few days and a lack of so-called “social media” would be a veteran teacher’s suggestion.

At least, after the prom and a salute to Mom are both successfully done!

Larry Hypes, a teacher at Tazewell High School, is a Daily Telegraph columnist.

 

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