Roosevelt Was Right; The Every-Single-Senior Project

 

By Tammy Davis

 

Part Seven of The Corona Chronicles
Part Six here
Part Five here
Part Four here
Part Three here
Part Two here
Part One here

 

Part Seven of The Corona Chronicles

The Corona quarantine closed down my craft club. At first, I didn’t think I could lead the girls without physically being together. Then, I came across a Theodore Roosevelt quote: “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” Time to take Teddy’s advice.

I could make excuses, or I could make it happen.

As I researched craft ideas, I came across pictures from June 2015 of my mailbox. That summer, many South Carolinians put big, blue bows on their mailboxes to support the Mother Emmanuel Church community after the shooting. A plan started to take place. The girls could learn how to make a bow (red to represent our school) and then attach it to a special teacher’s mailbox.

I used Michael’s curbside service, and my front porch became craft club headquarters where families could pick up materials. Videos walked the girls through the steps of making a beginner bow.

We had the materials and the instruction videos. Next step: a hashtag for the social media posts. #TieOneOn came to mind but seemed inappropriate. #PutOnSomePants wasn’t much better. A friend suggested #RedForVirtualEd. Perfect.

In the midst of the thank-a-teacher project, we got the official word that our school year would end online. As I drove by a billboard with photos of my school’s senior class, a bigger idea came to mind. What if my craft club girls made a bow for every single senior?

I made a list of all the reasons I should not volunteer to take on this project. I could hear my friend reminding me that all ideas have consequences. I knew the expression about leaving well enough alone. I knew it would be a headache and a hassle.  I also knew I was going to do it anyway.

Here’s why: I taught most of the kids in that senior class. Many of them worked at my house after the 2015 flood. I remembered them cleaning my china with a neighbor’s garden hose, hauling wet insulation to the road, and ripping out kitchen cabinets. I remember their mothers cooking meals for me and their fathers moving my salvageable furniture into storage. After the flood, Columbia residents pulled together. They followed Roosevelt’s directive and did the best they could, with what they had, where they were. It was time to put that philosophy into action for our seniors.

Teddy Roosevelt is remembered for his resilience and for his belief that hard times make you better: “Never throughout history has a man who lived a life of ease left a name worth remembering.”

Many of the kids of the Class of 2020 were born around September 11. The ones who lived in Columbia in 2015 were affected by the Thousand-year Flood. Covid-19 cancelled proms and parties and ceremonies and celebrations. These kids have had some knocks.

Corona is robbing us all of special moments, but maybe it will give us something as well. We rarely gain resilience when everything goes our way. Compassion usually comes out of crisis. Even though we are all a little beaten down right now, maybe the Class of 2020 and my fifth graders will learn from this hard time and be stronger and better for it. Maybe we all will.

 

Tammy Davis is a teacher and writer.  She would love to learn about special projects you are doing during this Corona craziness.  Email her at [email protected] or post on @tammydavisstories.  Visit www.tammydavisstories.com to read Tammy Davis’s other installments of a very, very, very long series – The Corona Chronicles.