The bell rang.
And East Union High School’s quad erupted in activity.
People darted left and they darted right and they fought their way through a crush of people to make it to their next class on time.
The only catch was these weren’t students – they were parents hustling between classrooms and staring at schedules and trying to figure out where to go next.
But for parents like Alonzo Drew, who spent the night visiting with his daughter Alyssa and her teachers, East Union’s annual back-to-school night Wednesday was a chance to get accustomed to where his child spends her days and who in fact is in charge of her education once she walks out the door.
“Last year I wasn’t really all that sure about it,” Drew said of the event while sitting on a bench and chatting with his daughter. “But this year I think I understand the benefits a little bit more. It’s a great chance to just sit and talk with your child and to get to talk with their teachers and find out what it is that they do during the day.
“A lot of times we’re busy at work or rushing out the door and you don’t get the chance to just sit and talk. This gives you that chance.”
Principal John Alba – clad in a gray suit – milled about the quad and chatted with parents and students as they moved between about and grabbed seats in the open area that faces the middle of many of the school’s classrooms.
In a sense the night functioned in many of the same ways that the typical school day does. The bell still rang, and in-class instruction was still the primary focus on the event.
In Alba’s eyes, however, it’s the involvement of the parents – getting the chance to meet one-on-one with teachers – that helps make back-to-school night a success and really clues parents in to the atmosphere that their children find when they arrive on campus.
“It’s a great chance for the parents to meet the teachers and to learn about the culture of our school and to get a feel for how things really operate,” Alba said. “It’s the first chance of the school year that we can really offer that, and that one-on-one meeting with the teachers I think really makes it something important.”
Cadet Major Michaela Ramos agreed with her principal.
With her Army dress uniform on, Ramos stood outside of the East Union JROTC classroom and greeted both parents and students as they made their way into the classroom – some for the first time.
As a senior, it was Ramos’ fourth back-to-school night, and it offered her a unique perspective as she shed insight into a world that she has wholeheartedly embraced.
“I think that it’s great because I know that these students are going to learn the same leadership skills that I’ve learned, and are going to become a part of a family that I’m now a part of,” she said. “It’s a chance to share that with parents also.”
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