It’s another Wednesday morning. Memorial Day is coming up with the promise of a long holiday weekend and hopefully some warm weather. The school year is starting to wrap up.
I drive my son to school. It’s day three of a four-day standardized test schedule for juniors and freshman. Standardized tests are not something that my son generally does well with. He had done another portion of this test earlier. (Was it earlier this month? Was it late last month? No, wait it was March! Who can remember?) Even though this test has not been proven (it’s never been given before), passing is a requirement for graduation. So this freaks me out. (And resulted in an earlier blog post) It freaks me out because if you DO fail, the other paths to graduating are not very clear.
One of the “alternative” paths is having an “acceptable” SAT score (I don’t know what that score is.) My son took his SATs three weeks ago. On a Saturday morning, the day AFTER he took his AP U.S. History exam. (Timing was not great…the other possible date was the Saturday after the prom; really not great.) He got his score recently and it was pretty awful. A score that I wouldn’t share with colleges, but then I know he’s lousy at these kind of tests, which he can take again. (He says he will, but I’m just wondering if it’s worth it. I’m not ready to throw more money at the test and really not ready to throw money at shoving him in program that will “teach” him how to take this test and hopefully get a better score.) So I’m a little freaked out about all this.
I’m also thinking about his grades (because there is just a little less than a month to the school year.) They aren’t bad, but they aren’t great. There are a couple of Cs in there that I’m hoping that he can pull up to Bs. There are a couple of Bs that I fear could slip down to Cs. How is this going to look on a college application? Lots of colleges are asking him to consider them. Are they truly considering him or just looking at getting application dollars? How are we going to afford to send him to college? I know there are scholarship opportunities and student loan; both of which scare the crap out of me. I can barely get him to turn in his school work, how am I going to get him to fill out applications for scholarships and/or write essays for them? When I think of student loans my stomach turns and the dread of student DEBT fills my soul.
All of these things haunt me this morning as I drive my son to school.
When I pull up, I noticed a police officer on duty outside. I know why he’s there. I watched the news last night and this morning. The second largest school massacre happened just the other day in Texas. Nineteen dead; most of them children under the age of 12. It can’t beat the number one school massacre which happened a full 10 years ago in Connecticut when 26 were gunned down; 20 of them were children younger than 10.
When he was younger, my son played on the beach playground near my parents’ house which was dedicated to the memory of Chase Kowalski. Chase was seven when he was gunned down. If he were still alive, he’d be in the same grade as my son. Would his mother be worrying about standardized tests, SATs/ACTs and college applications and costs? Probably. But she isn’t and neither is Chase’s dad. Their son is dead and he will be forever a little boy in my mind.
Ten years stand between the travesty at Sandy Hook Elementary school and Robb Elementary School, but they do not stand alone. We remember the 17 people who died at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Valentine’s Day 2018. Do we remember the five who died at Marysville Pilchuck High School in 2014? Do we remember the 10 who died at Santa Fe High School in May 2018? Or how about the 10 who were injured at the Wynbrooke Elementary School shooting in April 2019? What about the others that I haven’t mentioned because there are just too many? Places where “only” one person died or “only” three people were injured as the result of a shooting. Places and numbers that are all too easily forgotten as they are absorbed into the seemingly endless list of school shootings.
I dropped my son off at school today. I hope that he does well on this inane standardized test. I hope we don’t have to deal with an “alternative” path to graduation. I wonder if he should bother with SAT again. I nervously consider what colleges he might want to look at and apply to.
No matter what happens, he is alive. I have a nearly 17-year-old child. Grades and future plans…are they really as important as I think they are? I have a son and he is alive. What could be more important than that?
What IS more important than that?