Edgartown: The bell will ring

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— Shelby Regan

As I write this, I find myself heading into a three-day weekend without anything to do. Well, that’s not exactly true. I have report cards to write, and always work to do around the house, but no major fundraising or trip planning, or anything like that. In fact, it is 11 am on Saturday morning, I’m late for my deadline (again), and I’m still sitting on the couch with the dogs drinking coffee. A girl could get used to this. Fear not, when I’m done with this, I’ll be off to scrape some paint, put up some shelves in my kitchen, and power-wash my house. 

Last night’s Edgartown School eighth grade graduation was wonderful. After a false start due to power and sound problems, the ceremony got underway, and was such a delight. While it followed many of the past traditions, it definitely took on the personalities of the students, with music, jokes, laughter, and celebration. Watching the students’ genuine and heartfelt support for their peers lifted my weary, year-end, tired heart. I was so tired after school I was afraid I might fall asleep at the ceremony. But it was far too much fun to sleep through. Congratulations, eighth grade. It has been a pleasure.

Happy birthday to Doug Pease on June 24, Jack O’Callaghan and my big brother Robert on June 25, Isabella Vasiliadis on June 26, and Helayne Cohen on June 27.

I just completed 12 weeks of classes through Martha’s Vineyard Mediation to begin the process of becoming a trained mediator. It was such a positive experience, and I learned so much. Even if I never go on to be a full mediator, the information gained is super-useful in the classroom, with workmates, and in everyday life. If you ever have the opportunity to take these courses, I strongly recommend it. Sara Barnes and Kiki Homer are very wise and learned humans, and you will gain great insights into the world of conflict resolution.

School officially ends at noon on Monday, June 27. The bell will ring and the screams of students, and probably some staff, will echo in the halls as the kids rush out the doors toward summer break. And I can’t blame them. It has been a really challenging three years for students and staff alike. COVID has wreaked havoc on the school systems country- and worldwide, and each year brings more challenges. Kids are resilient, but we really need to cut them a little slack and take some pressure off them. We keep discussing the idea that kids are so far behind academically. And they are, for sure. But my gosh, who among us isn’t behind in life these days? These kids have gone through a world-changing pandemic. They’ve missed out on so much socially, emotionally, and academically. They aren’t going to bounce back overnight. Not to mention that the standards that we are measuring them by are arbitrary, created by people, many of whom have no background or experience in education. And, and this is a big “and” to remember, kids all over the country and all over the world are behind. Everyone is behind. Let’s let the kids heal and work on their learning as best we can. But unless every school system wants to increase their budgets significantly and hire three times the staff (or even more, maybe), it is going to take some time. They will recover. And they will be fine. But let them be kids too. I’ll hop off my soapbox now. 

Have a great week. I’m hoping that folks will send me some news about upcoming events and camps for kids and families over the summer. I’d love to share it with our readers.

If you have any Edgartown Town Column suggestions, email Gail Gardner, ggardnermv@gmail.com.