Pillar Assembly – Just another classroom

On Thursday, December 20, I was given the chance to speak to the entire school about one of the pillars that we use to describe our core values. There are four pillars, respect, responsibility, compassion, and investment, and when I was first asked to speak, I was told that my talk would be about responsibility. I appreciated the fact that I was asked, but I wasn’t really sure what to talk about, or even what I might do to make my five-minute speech interesting. In the end, I decided to do what seems to come naturally. I told the students a story. Who knows, I joked, it might even be true.

I hope you like it.

Sometime last week, I had to get to school early for a meeting and when I arrived at the teacher’s parking lot, it was completely empty. I had my pick of the lot. That was a sure sign it was going to be a good day. It was one of those days where the temperature was well below freezing and my tires crunched and seemed to groan as I backed into my usual spot. Yes, I am a creature of habit.

As I began walking toward my classroom and the main building, I slung my trusty book bag over my shoulder, pulled my hat a little lower on my head and tried to figure out if it would be quicker to go through the front or the back of the main building.

I opted for the back door and as I approached the building I saw two boys coming from the student parking lot. Maybe its the writer in me, but for whatever reason, I decided to stop and watch them for a minute.

I didn’t recognize them. They appeared to be friends or at least acquaintances, and as they ran or jogged in the direction of the building, they managed to hit each other at least three times.

It didn’t seem as if they were trying to inflict huge amounts of pain, just a playful punch between friends. I mean that’s what teenage boys sometimes do. But then they stopped moving and one of the boys bent over. I thought he had dropped something. When he stood up and turned again toward his friend I saw the object his attention.

There was a reflective roadway marker, you know one of the bright orange fiberglass sticks that are often used to mark the edge of a street, sidewalk, or driveway during the winter. It was just lying in dirt begging them to pick it up and add it to their arsenal. For a minute, I thought I was going to witness Game of Thrones, Thornton style.

But then, the boy did something unusual, or at least I thought it was unusual. He did whack his friend a bit with the stick, but as he did so, he walked away from the main building and headed toward the gym apron. One of the green utility vehicles from the maintenance department was parked there and beyond that, there was a red pickup truck. Two of the facilities staff were working early to try and get the last of the leaves picked up before the snow set in for good.

The boy with the sword, that’s how I thought of him now, yelled something to men who were working, but they had headphones on and didn’t hear him. The boy with the sword kept walking and as he got closer to the workers and their vehicles, he yelled again. This time he waved the marker and shrugged his shoulders. One of the workers pointed toward the back of the truck and the boy smiled. within a second I knew why.

With all the grace of a decorated javelin thrower, he launched the marker in a high, arcing throw toward the truck. It landed in the middle of the pickup bed and as soon as the rattling stopped, a smile spread across his face. Victory. Now, the two boys were once again hitting each other and moving back toward the main building and their first block class.

I smiled too and continued walking. Even when nobody was watching, the boys had done the right thing. They acted responsibly.

See you on the roads and stay tuned – as always, if I think it’s interesting, I’ll write about it.

Thanks again for reading my stories and as always, you may purchase my novel, Homecoming: A Soldier’s Story of Loyalty, Courage, and Redemption at your local, independent bookstore or online: DavidArenstam.comBrysonTaylorPublishing.com, or Amazon.com

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David Arenstam

About David Arenstam

Originally from away, but here to stay - Maine is my home and I love writing stories about the people and places from my end of the state. I am a teacher and writer and my first novel, "Homecoming: A Soldier's Story of Loyalty, Courage, and Redemption" is available now at www.BrysonTaylorPublishing.com