Ducks are flying north for the football season, while beavers are so disturbed by the new design of their logo they've taken out their frustrations on the riparian zone along Bear Creek.
Speaking of mascots, now that the government has interceded, Rogue River High students are left to wonder whether a depiction of Paddy Moloney banging on a bodrahn will be painted on the side of the school. The government's also looking over the shoulder of the kids at Shady Cove Elementary, literally, in an effort to keep them safe while they're in school.
Medford, meanwhile, has started another year of keeping students safe on campuses by having one of the shortest school calendars in the state — although the 170 days continue to be more than the number of games the Chicago Cubs play in a baseball season.
Oh snap, Nightcrawler.
Life isn't any easier on the teachers. Many in Eagle Point still feel the sting of the 2012 job action, while the usual issues — pay, benefits, work year — have raised tensions and mediation requests in Medford.
Some in the general public, meanwhile, still cling to the ill-informed notion that being a teacher is a well-paying, half-year job protected by obstructionist unions that won’t allow their members to vote Republican.
The solution some of these well-intentioned citizenry have concocted to get more out of the faculty? … Give’em guns, of course; or at least train them in anti-terror tactics in case a lone gunman slips past the surveillance cameras. Like pencils, markers and (often) books, teachers probably would have to supply their own bullets.
Speaking of those who, for all the flack they take, should be carrying Kevlar briefcases (yes, the same company that makes bulletproof backpacks makes these, too), let’s review the exciting recent history had by those sitting in the superintendent’s office.
Eagle Point’s chief educator fought back against misconduct charges and gained a better sense of security when townspeople voted against school board candidates who would have ousted her. The superintendent at Prospect Charter School had charges of misconduct dismissed for a lack of evidence. Medford’s top administrator announced his departure at the end of the school year, after years of debate over his performance and communication skills.
Ashland — being Ashland, of course — lost its complete initial set of three finalists when none apparently became what one member of the selection called the “perfect fit.” Although, in fairness, it’s difficult to imagine that any candidate being run through a car wash of four separate interviews with panels filled by those with a vested interest in the Ashland school system could come out the other end spiffy clean and shiny.
Into all this walks the Class of 2026.
Hey kids, put down the iPads and stop twerking during calisthenics so we can give you a couple of words of advice about the next 12 years of your life.
You’re about to have more adults enter your lives than you could ever have imagined. Or wanted, frankly. What do these old people have to teach you? Well, plenty ... and not enough. By the time (according to the latest state figures) that 68.4 percent of you graduate, you’ll leave with as many questions as answers.
And that’s a good thing … even for the 361 of you who, by then, will qualify for the singular honor of high school valedictorian.
There’s plenty you’ll need to learn on your own. For example, don’t get locked onto the educational conveyor belt so quickly that you neglect to take an interest in seemingly meaningless subjects.
Latin, for instance. Or power down the computer (even if by then it’s a chip implanted into your cerebral cortex) and decipher algebraic equations long-hand on a piece of paper with a Stone Age implement called a pencil. Or if you really want to feel like Don Quixote railing against the windmills of evolution, take it from a Medieval English Lit major and study journalism.
Some might call choices such as those mistakes. But, you know what, it’s OK to make mistakes. Look at your parents … you think those guys have never made a mistake? And don’t just fail, don’t be afraid to fail big. Own up to the mistakes and learn from that, too.
Don’t be like that 9-year-old kid from Connecticut who wanted the judges to count his Final Jeopardy answer even though he spelled it incorrectly. And whatever you do, don’t be like his parents … who want to sue.
Spelling counts. Sooner or later you’re going to run into something called the Common Core State Standards. Oregon’s one of the states adopting the new requirements for subjects such as the language arts … and that will mean actually writing — no text-message shorthand, no spell check, no phone-a-friend. So, learn to spell or move to a state that won’t be adhering to no government telling them what to teach their kids. A state like Texas.
Instead of looking for red and green squiggly lines to correct your grammar while typing, make some squiggly lines of your own. Doodle.
Along with exciting the artistic neurons in your hard-drive, doodling gets you to think beyond your capabilities. Those abstract stray marks you make could turn into DNA sequencing, or a field of gold or some sort of Escherian mobius strip ... you know, like the South Medford interchange.
Yes, yes, this is all coming from yet another Grup trying to tell you things they think are important, which likely will be as current as Miley Cyrus or sabermetrics by the time you graduate. There is one four-letter word, however, that you need to learn so that you can find a way to eradicate it in your lifetimes.
Save your irrational disdain for those things that deserve it — Brussels sprouts, the Ducks (or Beavers), certain attempts to set Shakespeare’s plays in modernistic settings. Don’t allow anyone, even your parents, to teach you to hate or bully those around you — just because of insignificant differences such as gender or race or ethnicity or religious beliefs or political party or age or sexual orientation.
Because those other kids are the ones you’re going to work with to fix the mess we’re handing off to you. Graduate without hate, and you really will know more than we do.
Mail Tribune news editor Robert Galvin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.