We are on 'year round' school here in the Vail School District. A lot of none Vail parents do not like that idea. I do. I mean, shouldn't our kids be in school year round? Just kidding. I love the 'year round' thing, because the kids get multiple breaks throughout the year, instead of one long, drawn out summer. And who wants to be off during August in Arizona anyway when it is hotter than hades and 100 degrees from 9 a.m. through 9 p.m.? Better to be in the air condition splendor of a class room and then have three weeks off for fall break, the last week of September and first two weeks of October, when it is cooler out and an excellent time to hit the California theme parks with no crowds!
But the summer did go flying by...I never once thought 'can't wait until the kids go back to school.' It was so nice to be with them and help them continue to heal and create good summer memories with them.
In fact, it was something akin to shock that I remember tonight was 'Meet the Teacher' night. A formality, as I've known the bambini's teachers for many years...and Autumn had Mrs. Rudzena last year, who gave one of the finest presentations to us parents that I have ever seen. Autumn is so excited to have her again this year (no, she wasn't held back - we were blessed that Mrs. Rudzena moved up to teach 6th grade!). She is such an excellent teacher and, having lost her father to cancer 4 years ago, has been a great comfort for Autumn. But, I wanted to go to see everyone, and let Autumn and Tonio see all of their friends and classmates. And to support our new principal, Mrs. Mayeux - who did a great job keeping things moving along tonight!
Tonio was also feeling a little nervous about moving on to 3rd grade. He wanted to know who was going to be in his class. And, although he has known Mrs. Rienstra for years (Autumn's 3rd grade teacher!), I think he just needed to talk to her one on one in her classroom to see that she truly is a nice person. Mrs. Rienstra did a great job, too. She was very upbeat and set the kids at ease. She is due to have a baby boy, Nathan, on September 9th, looks great and seems to have more energy and enthusiasm than ever! We are excited to have her this year.
Time flies...as I said, the summer went by so fast - and so has a year. It seems like so short a time ago, Kim and I were attending 'Meet the Teacher Night' for Tonio going to 2nd grade and Autumn to 5th. We got there early, to be able to talk to parents about impending budget cuts that would affect our children and their education. Kim was so passionate about that. After Mrs. Bryson opened the evening, to a crowd of parents in the MPR room, she asked for nominees for the Site Based Council, a group of teachers/parents/administrators that guide policies for the school and help advise the principal on issues, Kim raised her hand and nominated Mimi Thomas, a hard working, dedicated parent, who went on to get elected to the council that night. Kim, the 'I'm a behind the scenes person', had just shaped leadership for the year, and got behind the movement to appeal for more dollars for our schools to be able to keep art/music/p.e. and smaller class rooms...unfortunately, she was unable to see this movement through, before getting sick (and we've lost art and classroom sizes are increasing rapidly - Autumn's up to 29 students in her 6th grade class. When Cody was in 6th grade, three years ago, he had 18 in his class.). She also stepped up to be co-vp of the PTSA (pulling me along as the other co!). Passionate about our school wouldn't begin to do Kim justice...she believed strong education was not an option and worked diligently as a district employee, a volunteer and a parent to help deliver that. She walked the walk.
There were constant reminders of all she contributed to Cottonwood and our children tonight...and as we left Mrs. Rienstra's class, Lupe (who's daughter Monsi will be in Tonio's class again - they were thrilled!) and I looked towards the setting sun...where there was a handful of incredibly shaped clouds, touched by the setting sun, turning them brilliant shades of pinks and peaches...I stopped walking and shut my mouth, staring. I noticed that Lupe had done the same. And she said 'Kim'. I nodded and said that sometimes I think I force it, to find Kim in every little thing...Lupe said, "No Dave, she's here". I knew she was, I could feel her the entire time we were there...the brilliance of the clouds and the sunset just woke me up to it.
We've got a weekend left together. This 55 days has gone so much faster for us all than the 55 days that we had Kimmy before she passed. We've tried to make the most of every day and every moment...
This morning, we started our day at San Xavier Mission...it is the feast day of St. Bonaventure, an Italian Franciscan, same order of the Mission, who is considered one of the greatest theologians and philosophers of Christianity. He was declared a Doctor of the Church and remains, to this day, as one of the most important authorities on the interpretation of Christian thought among Catholics. Google him. He was pretty deep.
After Mass, we headed over to the zoo to meet Janene, her mother-in-law, Jane and her kids. It was warming up, but our zoo has a lot of shade spots, plus a small splash park for the kids to stay cool and we had our zoo cups - free refills (thanks Kim!). Janene had brought a ton of bread, and after the zoo, we walked to Reid Park, next door, to have the kids ride the little train and feed the ducks.
The kids had so much fun seeing the animals...the elephant habitat that Kim worked to make a reality is coming along nicely. It was a good morning, Janene had it all dialed in for us, and a great way to kick off our final weekend of summer vacation.
Oh, I almost forgot...I have a high schooler! It's nearly an ungraspable idea. We went and picked up his books, got his i.d. and had his 'health screening' yesterday, feeling every bit the cattle that we were for those couple hours that morning. So proud of this guy...I know Kim is too.