I mentioned last weekend that there were big changes coming to the Burgess house this week. Haylee is now 14 and ready for high school, and we decided to let her go to public high school like Hayden did. Now Hayden’s transition was pretty simple, because he went to a public charter school…smaller class sizes, student mentor’s, and a lot of personal interaction with staff. In addition, every student was in the International Baccalaureate program, so the work was challenging, and the underachievers were quickly weeded out.
Haylee’s experience is much different. She’s going to a mainstream public high school. It’s a Title 1 school, as are most schools in Fort Worth. I read this week that 78% of Fort Worth ISD’s student population is at or below poverty level. Wow. And 31% of students are ESL learners. Already, it’s been an eye-opening experience for her.
Her basic evaluation of week 1 was that they really didn’t do any work because students can change classes for the first 10 days, so teachers didn’t want to get started on anything big during the first 2 weeks. And she said the lunch room is really, really loud and annoying, but eating outside is just as bad with yelling and screaming going on. She finally found some lounge chairs outside the lunch room where she feels more comfortable to eat her lunch, so that’s where she has started going. They haven’t been issued any textbooks, and when they do get them, they won’t be allowed to take them home unless they check them out with permission. They don’t get assigned lockers unless they request one, because they said there’s no time between classes to use them anyway. They get homework early in the week, and it’s always due on Friday (strange not to have weekend homework). They are supposed to get laptops at the end of next week. They just did away with block scheduling here, so she has every class every day (8 periods). One day, she spent a total of 3 different class periods watching a volleyball tournament in the gym, just because the teachers in those classes were needed to help with the tournament. I was like, “HUH?!?” They seem to waste a lot of time so far, so we’ll have to see if things pick up as time goes on.
Things are a little different here than in VA. She gets to take soccer as her P.E. class, so they practice during the class period. Isn’t that interesting? I’ve never heard of such a thing. They do that with a lot of different sports here. But I guess that means she’ll also get a grade for soccer participation, which seems odd. I guess there’s less practice time after school this way, so it’s fine with me. And I know it’s nice to break up the day with a little exercise. Hayden only got to take gym class in his freshman year, and he missed the physical activity in the middle of the day for the rest of his time there. She is also ecstatic that her last class of the day is Art I. She loves art! She said it’s a great way to end the school day, and she really looks forward to it, so that’s cool. Here is her first art project this week, which she just finished yesterday. They had to trace their arm and hand on a piece of paper and then draw different things of significance to them inside. Afterwards, they had to ink it, and next week they’ll be standing up in front of the class to explain their drawing. I thought she did a great job with it!
She said all of her teachers are really nice except for her male Spanish teacher. She said he’s “less nice,” and she wouldn’t want to get on his bad side. LOL. That class is outside in a trailer. The others are all in the building. She said her English teacher is the nicest of all and plays music as they enter class every day. That teacher even lets them have snacks in the classroom…she said she likes to eat, so she imagines they do, too! LOL. Sounds like a fun lady. Even though Haylee took Algebra I at home for 8th grade, we decided she’d benefit from taking it again in school. She has always struggled with math and takes longer to get the concepts, so she didn’t want to get into math that’s too advanced in high school, and taking Algebra I again will help firm up her understanding before moving on. The counselor said if it turns out to be too easy, she can switch classes either in the first 10 days or after the first semester.
The school is literally across the intersection from our neighborhood. We are officially in the walking zone. But I’m not sending my 14-year old girl to walk alone to and from school around here. I’ve read stories of young girls being abducted in broad daylight. At the end of last school year, a girl that age was attacked on her way to the bus stop and nearly died fighting him off. Luckily, the bus pulled up, and she got to the bus to ask for help. She’s still in the hospital awaiting a heart transplant because of the damage done to her organs in the attack! So with that in mind, I drive her up to school in the morning and drop her off out front, and then I pick her up across the intersection as soon as she gets out in the afternoon. Better safe than sorry in my book! Plus, it gives us a few minutes to talk about her day and catch up.
In her math class, they had a worksheet for homework. It was really just an easy little review of pre-algebra concepts…just enough to see if they were where they needed to be to begin Algebra I. By the end of the week, she was the ONLY student in her class who even turned it in! Many students hadn’t even started on it. Isn’t that crazy? I said to Steve, “Wouldn’t it be funny if our struggling math student ended up being the star of the class, simply because she actually tries?” Too funny. She got her paper back with a blue star stamped on it.
I know Haylee felt a little nervous that first day about finding her classrooms and all, but she seemed to get around okay and wasn’t late for any of her classes. By the end of the week, she had it down pretty well. She doesn’t seem to mind going to school at all, so that’s good. It seems like she will transition well, just as Hayden did. And another student asked her to write something for them, just because she has pretty cursive handwriting. I remember Hayden being the only kid in his class who could write in cursive, simply because it’s no longer taught in schools these days. That’s so weird to me!
Anyway, it seems so odd having only one student in my homeschool now. It’s a lot quieter without Haylee and Holden fighting all day, so that’s a welcome change. But it’s also a little lonely for me, now that I don’t have any adult-like person to engage in conversation with all day long. Not having any close friends here, Steve and Hayden being gone to work all day, and Haylee being at school all day leaves me here with just a 10-year old boy to communicate with! It’s definitely different. Since my parents are deceased, I don’t even have them to call and chat on the phone. It’s definitely different. I guess it will take some getting used to. For now, Haylee seems to enjoy chatting with me on Google Hangouts while she is at school. She instant messages me between classes, at lunch, and when she has free time in class, just to let me know how her day is goes. That’s really nice and keeps us both company, I guess.
It’ll only be 4 more years of homeschooling before Holden finds himself going to public high school, as well, and then it will really be quiet around here! It’s interesting the way the Lord brings us into different seasons of our lives, each one with its own purpose. I can’t wait to fall into a new routine of things and see what this season has in store for us!