Saturday, February 19, 2011

Graduation Manners

Recently, we received the official Dunwoody High School graduation schedule, filled with bold-faced print, exclamation marks, and underlines.

Reading through this missive, I figured out the following:
  • There have been some very badly behaved parents and guests attending graduation, who evidently are prone to shouting, blowing air horns, cursing, carrying large televisions and coolers, bearing helium baloons and confetti, smoking, eating, spraying graffiti and vandalizing the premises, having a nip from a flask, selling Amway or magazine subscriptions, taking up way more seats than are issued, and arriving late.
  • Students apparently do not understand that graduation is a special occasion, so arrive in flip flops, revealing tops, baggy pants, huge earrings, open toed sandals, and colorful shirts and ties rather than modest colors. 
  • Someone does not believe public schools should have a Baccalaureate ceremony. Hence, it is now called the "Pre-Commencement Ceremony." 
In other words, high school graduation has become a rowdy "that's my kid!" celebration for the parent rather than the student.

There is always a segment of parents and guests who can't tell the difference between a sporting event and a formal ceremony.  But you can't legislate behavior ... unless you're actually willing to follow through on promises of corrective measures. In my experience, rules and regulations are just paper tigers. They have no teeth. Too many laws get on the books because someone, somewhere, did something bad, so they made a law just in case anyone else was thinking about doing the same thing. Problem is, writing more laws doesn't result in better behavior. 

There are scores of Dunwoody High School parent and student volunteers, teachers, and administrators who are working hard to make graduation a truly special event. They are unbelievably generous with their time and dedication to the students who will graduate on May 20. Yet, I have no doubt that all the boldfacing and underscoring in the world won't reach the guests who will still do their best to celebrate without regard to those trying to enjoy the ceremony. And students who will make one grand gesture as they cross the stage.

It's all about them.

Our oldest kid is graduating. And we'll get through it with him, just as we've made it through the past thirteen years ... with the support of the unparalleled Dunwoody public school community: students, parents, teachers, administrators, and businesses.

Now, where did I put my air horn?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Bridging the gap.

I'm baaaaack. Delightedly so.

The Board of Directors of Dunwoody Nature Center paid me quite a compliment. They asked me to return and serve as the Interim Executive Director while they complete their search for a successor to Claire Hayes, who retires next week. Of course I said yes. While my freelance writing continues, and they understand the juggling I'll do over the two months (or less) of the interim period, we're all confident that it'll work out very nicely. (I'm nothing if not hyper organized and multi-task oriented.) My goal is to create a solid operational foundation for the new Executive Director.

This is a crucial and exciting turning point for the Nature Center, as it stands on the threshold of truly remarkable changes that will have far-reaching benefits for our community. A new strategic plan that clarifies their mission and goals, a new City parks department led by the savvy and responsive Brent Walker, a dynamic parks and greenspace planning process that supports a public/private partnership as the Board begins the process of planning a new education center, new programs for adults and children, and new and long-time donors recognizing the value of environmental education and supporting the Nature Center with their financial support.

If you haven't been to Dunwoody Park ... oh, my. This brief February warmth is a gift that can only be enjoyed outdoors. Walk the trails, listen to the birds, hunt for those first green shoots emerging from the ground and the tips of trees, and breathe deeply.

See you at Dunwoody Nature Center!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Late bloomer

Have you seen the commercial where the kinda creepy guy in the carpool gets a text on his smart phone, laughs ... then, wait for it, everyone else in the carpool finally gets it, too? (The point is that his smart phone service is better than their smart phone service.)

I'm the rest of the folks in the carpool. A late bloomer, if you will. I wait to jump into the latest technology because I don't want to pay top dollar, know there are bugs to work out, and figure it's better to let everyone else do the trial and error bit before I join in.

My handy dandy new smart phone is quite a treat, a miniature computer in my hands and ready to tell me where to go, how to get there, and why I want to be there in the first place. But my gee-whiz reactions get a mental eye-roll from friends who've been sending me emails and texts "from my XYZ totally cool smart phone" for YEARS.

Ah well, better late than never.

At the moment, the smart phone is out-smarting me on several fronts ... quickly draining battery life, cumbersome wireless pass-keys, icons I don't want and can't delete, and jiggly photos (including an unexpected photo of myself - so THAT's what that little icon does).  I'm checking user forums and getting up to speed, so the learning curve isn't bad. Well, mostly.

Fun! And much more relaxing than yesterday's heavy labor.

26 or so bags of leaves and sticks from the front yard. My aching back.

The raised bed vegetable garden is now in the front yard. Needs more peat moss, compost, and vermiculite. Scat, cats! Off, dogs!
Today, it's all about copywriting and Preschool Phonics.  So the next wave of yard prep will wait until later in the week, when it's supposed to be tantalizing warm and clear.

Get ready, back yard. Your loser days are nearly OVER.

Monday, February 14, 2011

It's gardening weather.

I had no idea so much time had passed since my last post. Let's see ... finished my tenure at Dunwoody Nature Center, had a birthday, enjoyed the resolution of our long rezoning headache,  demolitioned some sad-looking plants in the yard, re-enlisted at DNC to serve an interim role during the transition from retiring Executive Director Claire Hayes until her successor is named, moved the garden box to the front yard (where there's actually sun most of the day), watched our son compete in his last Mock Trial competition for Dunwoody High School, sent several more checks to North Georgia College & State University for our rising Freshman, enjoyed the Student Showcase at Peachtree Charter Middle School, and wrote lots and lots and LOTS of copy for my wonderful clients.

Love writing. Love gardening. Love this beautiful, warm February week.

And now for a public service message.

Dear neighbors passing our home on the way to and from the path to Dunwoody Village:

PLEASE don't let your darlin' dog PIDDLE on my soon-to-be-planted bed of lettuces, radishes, and early peas. Yes, it's right at the edge of our yard, in tempting leash distance from your sniffing-for-a-good-spot pooch. But it's the only sunny spot in our entire yard. And I have high hopes for spring and summer crops. So please aVOID the temptation to let your dog  ELIMINATE on our vegetable garden.

A Farmers Market bike - what a great birthday gift.
Thank you very much.
It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood. Take a walk. Ride bikes. Explore the trails at Dunwoody Nature Center and Brook Run. Get outside and breathe. Just breathe.