dear chicago jr. school,
it only feels right that for day 14 i write about my second home, it is technically korrie’s birthday after all.
i am grateful…
- that the older i get, the more i appreciate the education i received at cjs
- that i spent the first 14 years of my life surrounded by love, diversity, and nature
- for your 50 acres of woodlands (including one of the last white cedar forests in illinois)
- that by the time i got to mr. mikulak’s 8th grade class, he had watched me grow up from birth (and already learned how to handle a schneider from my brother and sister)
- for the chance to play and experience every sport (since we only had 14 kids in our class)
- that environmental education, music, and art were required classes
- for the 12 character building qualities (i think they really did help build my character):
CHARITY We care. We help others.
COOPERATION We work together to support each other.
COURTESY We use good manners.
CREATIVITY We have our own ideas.
GOOD JUDGMENT We think before we act.
GRATITUDE We appreciate. We are thankful.
HONESTY We always tell the truth.
HUMILITY We are patient with others and ourselves. We are gentle.
RELIABILITY We are dependable. We are punctual.
RESOURCEFULNESS We care for our natural world. We solve problems.
RESPECT We are kind, considerate, and thoughtful to others and self.
SELF-CONTROL We do what is right. We chose to behave.
- that i was able to perform in our school assemblies and annual school musicals (even if korrie always got the lead…)
- for our annual camping trips and the trouble we got in during them
- for the outstanding educators that taught me and that i will remember forever
- for friday electives that taught me things like scrapbooking
- that in-school suspension meant i just got to hang out in the library all day and finish all my homework before lunch (i mean, taught me valuable lessons about why i shouldn’t hit patrick on the head with a dictionary)
- for the lifelong friendships that i formed within your walls
- that kenny decamp taught ballet after school at “bates” and that my love for dance started at age 3
- that the “big hill” seemed way bigger when i was a student with a sled
- that i got to have my mother as a preschool teacher and hang out in her classroom after school every other year
- that my first “boyfriend” was african american and when he dumped me for a cute korean girl, i dated a hispanic boy in the grade below us, and all the meanwhile my best friend was pakistani, and never did i realize that that was a thing to be grateful for until i attended a nearly all white public high school
- that mr. mikulak’s 8th grade prediction was that i would return to cjs to run the early education department like mrs. doolin (what an honor that would have been)
- that i have trespassed through your closed gates to show everyone i love just how amazing my childhood school was
- and that now reopen your doors and become a school once more (even if it will be under a different name and mission)
- that i was learning how to make animated gifs and write simple code in middle school thanks to our computer classes
- for the young authors program and the fact that i graduated 8th grade with 7 “published” books under my belt
- that the tune of edelweiss will forever have lyrics for me (oak trees fall over all, on our junior school campus…) and silos will only make me think of cjs
- for my 7th grade trip to washington d.c. and the wreath i got to place on the tomb of the unknown solider
- for inservice and teacher conference days, so us staff kids could explore the woods unattended, following the streams wherever they would lead
- for mrs. johnson, mrs. gaines, and mrs. arndt – three of the best art teachers a child could have asked for
- for mrs. woolard and mrs. spears for their cultivation of my performing arts skills
- for kindergarten song circles where the now mrs. donnelly subliminally exposed us to music from world-renowned musicals (there is a castle in the sky…)
- that i knew the cafeteria kitchen staff, so that i could go make myself a pb&j when the daily lunch items were disgusting
- that i was lucky enough to have an extended family of peers and teachers that made me into the woman i am today
Just made me cry! Love you Sara😢
Of course, I’m grateful for you too Miss Brook. 🙂
This is great! I am also a former student of CJS and appreciate the experience just as much.
Thank you Sara for writing this. I am going through some tumultuous times, and in my depression, negative memories are amplified. Your post is a priceless jog of positive memories! Mr. Mikulak was an awakening event in my life, and 29 years later I am still working on his first homework assignment (“Since the dawn of time we have looked up at the stars and asked ‘Who am I?’ Write a 5 page essay to answer the question, due tomorrow.”).
If you happen to remember an immature kid in your brother’s class who, on a field trip, thought it funny to get you to say “I hate Dan” corrected by your mom to say “I don’t like Dan”, sorry – immature. Also, pretty jealous you got to escape Al’s shepherd’s pie with PB&J.