Thursday, August 18, 2005

Notes from My Knapsack 8-21-05
Jeff Gill

School Isn’t All That’s Started Already

Lakewood School District and many county systems start this week. The back-to-school supply shelves are already scraped down to metal, and the last trips to fill the unmet expectations of summer fun are planned as teachers and staff are already sweltering in the classrooms, stapling bulletin boards together and mustering lesson plans for ‘05-’06.
For everyone, the annual "watch out for buses and pedestrians" alert goes out. Corn, even with the withering drought the farmers are battling, is redefining the view at corners and along curves along roads. Stay alert: a clear view just a week or so ago may be a wall of green (well, yellow-green) shocks topped with growing tassels.
Kids are also learning or re-learning bus stop etiquette and expectations, so we pilots of metal behemoths have to be extra cautious.
Bands and teams are well into their preparations, with training camps and special sessions already weeks old. Sunday, Sept. 4, the Lakewood Alumni Band will hold practice in the LHS band room from 2 pm to 5 pm. This is to prepare for Friday, Sept. 9 which is "2005 Lakewood Alumni Band Night" directed by Scott Coffey and David Wolford.
The practice just two weeks away will jostle with the previous four days of Millersport Sweet Corn Festival, where Lakewood Band Boosters raise the bulk of their support each year at a booth that sells, um, something tasty. Rice balls, or guava pops, or, ah . . .wait, no, they sell pierogies!
No, that’s not right. Where are my notes? (Sound of scuffling and rustling.) Here it is: doughnuts. They sell doughtnuts (you may spell it donuts, which is easier to paint on a sign, I’ll admit, and shorter to type). A third of a million dollars of donuts if you can believe it, and the Band Boosters can, since 1980. That’s a lotta donuts, or doughtnuts, either way.
So band alumni are invited to join "alumni shifts" in the infamous booth, where you will see everyone. Yep, everyone comes by the donut booth sooner or later, and if you help make, dunk, or sell donuts, you’ll see ‘em.
If you are planning on playing Sept. 9, even if you don’t help at the booth (but you really should), they need you to come practice on Sept. 4. And after, they plan to have a dinner, so please contact Beth (Miller ’81) Walters at 928-1299 if you haven’t already signed up through the mailing they’ve sent to their alumni list.
So band and football and teachers and custodians and administrators and bus drivers are already hard at work, starting well before the so-called "first day," and parents and caregivers are hunting the sales and snagging vital supplies for the growing mind like glue sticks and new socks. Each of them thinks "first day, hah!"
Along that same line: one of the most significant learning experiences of my time at boot camp came at 4:00 am. My good fortune was to draw fireguard duty one night just before wakeup at 5 am (which was a joke, since we usually were awakened by the clashing of trash cans down the squad bay at 4:45). No, there’s no stove in the barracks and the shingles are fireproof, but why stop an ancient tradition?
So there I march, up and down the central aisle in the pitch dark between the bunk beds. At the end facing the company street, where the screen door opened toward the platoon command hut matching us across the way, I heard on each pass a strange sound. Finally I took the risk of pausing at the door and listening, the risk being a deranged (I thought) sergeant with the company who checked silently at random on those doing sentry duty through the night.
Freezing by the screen door, leaning to a vantage point across the way, I realized that our much "beloved" sergeant instructor was humming Sousa march tunes while ironing his camo fatigues near his screen door, five yards away. He had been up and driven to our camp and dressed and was at work . . . long before we had received our oh-so-early wake-up call.
And it occurred to me that after we had been put away at lights out, as Sgt. Camire (you never forget their names, never) stalked out of the squadbay, he no doubt went back to command hut for some festive paperwork before he drove home to his semi-mythical family. Up before us, up after us, and up in our faces all day.
So it is for the so-called nine month job of teaching or working in today’s educational system. Thanks for getting eveything ready when the buildings are at their fiendishly hottest, and let’s send our kids to school ready to learn. They’re ready to teach ‘em.

Jeff Gill is a writer, storyteller, and supply preacher around central Ohio; send your Sweet Corn Festival stories to

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