The Commercial Appeal

David Waters’ MCS memories,

But dad longs for more pictures of important school occasions

- By David Waters

Got a minute or two to look at family photos?

Here’s one of Luke, our youngest, when he was i n fourth grade at S n o wd e n School. He’s the second kid from the left, wearing a green (for Green Dogs) polo shirt and white khakis, striding across North Dakota and Mon- tana on a U.S. map rug.

To his left, standing atop Minnesota, is the First Lady of the United States of America, Laura Bush. Mrs. Bush was in Memphis that day, April 23, 2004, on a tour of schools to promote her Strive to Read initiative, which focused on middle school literacy.

She read two books to Snowden’s sixth- and seventh-graders. She also took time for photos with Snowden’s younger readers, including Luke and four of his classmates

Luke, who graduated from Central High last year, says he doesn’t remember taking the photo or meeting the president’s wife that day. Just another adult trying to get him to be still. But his parents never will forget it.

We’ve got a lot more school photos. Class pictures from Springdale and Snowden. Yearbooks from White Station and Central. Memorable moments captured forever in low-tech, high-tech and no-tech form.

We sent our first child to a Memphis City School in 1988, and we watched our last child graduate from a Memphis City School 24 years later — just in time, as it turns out.

As of Monday, the large, urban, often distressed and seemingly indomitabl­e school district known as Memphis City Schools will be no more. It is being absorbed by — and some say overwhelmi­ng — the smaller, suburban, and seemingly more successful district known as Shelby County Schools.

All of our kids attended Memphis City Schools. That’s what we wanted. That’s what they wanted (as much as any kid can want to go to any school).

All of them received an excellent education and earned scholarshi­ps to college. All of them made lifelong friends. All of them had teachers and principals who put up with them, loved them, challenged them and inspired them.

Not all of our MCS memories are good ones. No child or parent survives 13 years of school unscathed.

Thirteen years of waking up early and late, fixing lunches and finding shoes, juggling school days, halfdays, holidays and sick days.

Thirteen years of good report cards and challengin­g ones, teacher comments that make your spirit soar and those that make your heart sink.

Thirteen years of homework (I still don’t get algebra), parent- child book reports and science projects, last-minute trips to Kinko’s, Walgreens or the emergency room.

Thirteen years of dropping them off, then watch- ing them drive off; dressing them as they wince, then wincing as they dress themselves; trying to get them out of the house, then trying to get them to stay in the house.

Still, I wish we had a photo to remember every year, every grade, every teacher, every memorable moment.

Thank you, Memphis City Schools.

Thank you, teachers and guidance counselors and principals who worked miracles by refining our precious raw materials into brilliant gems.

Thank you, board members and superinten­dents and administra­tors who accepted the challenge of educating most of our children and absorbing all of our social problems.

Thank you, aides and custodians and lunch ladies, building engineers and security officers and volunteers who did so much for our children for so little. And thank you, Mrs. Bush.

 ??  ?? David Waters
David Waters

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