This week was full of a few exciting things. First off, we were really short-handed at work. All of the instructional aides were gone Monday through Wednesday at a district training, so substitutes were scarce. We have five main high school teachers (2 couples and a single guy). Both couples (ourselves and the Cejkas) are expecting babies after Christmas. Corey has had quite a hard pregnancy and was out on Monday for an appointment and then again on Tuesday for another appointment. The doctor she saw sent her to Anchorage for an emergency appointment, so her husband hurriedly left Tuesday after school to meet her there. (It's not my place to go into details, but we're happy they were able to get to a hospital as early as they did.) Brian, our math teacher, left Wednesday after school for an unrelated reason. Our vice principal was also out of town. This left Tim and I as the only regular high school teachers for the rest of the week. I must admit I was really worried that the students were going to be terribly out of hand. I had thoughts of just barricading myself in my classroom and avoiding the hallways and commons as much as possible. Surprisingly, it wasn't that bad though. The students behaved fairly normally in my classroom and it seemed like in between classes students weren't lingering any more than usual (they linger a LOT here) or being unruly.
I'd like to report, that I did keep one of my goals from last week. I did go home earlier than usual. Monday-Thursday I went home before 7:00 pm. Sometimes I even went home before 6:00 pm. I'm not sure how I managed it. I guess it was a blessing that I was able to complete all my work and go home. Now, if only I had the primary program written, perhaps I could've felt less stressed out . . .
Friday I was at the school for a long time. Tim, Michael Lee, Mike Tozzo, Charlie Lee, and I spent several hours getting things set up for the lock-in. Charlie is our student body president. This was the first big even that student council has put on this year. We've been trying to raise money to go to a student council conference in Wasilla in a few weeks. At 7:30 pm, Tim finally told me we had to go home for a few hours. We ate some pizza, watched some Office episodes, and then at 9:30 pm headed back to the school. We had to stay up all night long chaperoning kids at our annual lock-in. This is the third year in a row that I have chaperoned at the lock-in the entire night. It's never quite that bad, but the anticipation is horrible. I just kept telling myself this was the last time I ever had to do it.
I guess I better interject with some of the subjects from the title. Friday evening, while setting up for the lock-in, I saw a moose. He (or she) was walking around on the tundra between the school and the village. Moose hardly ever come into Togiak. In fact, I've never heard of it happening before. People always travel several hours up river to go moose hunting. I haven't seen any bears this fall, but I'll take a moose.
As Tim and I were driving back to the school at 9:30 pm, we saw the northern lights. They were really faint, but I was excited to see them. I've been wanting to see the northern lights the whole time we've lived in Togiak. I did see the northern lights once before when we lived in Skagway and they were much more impressive that time, but I still thought it was really cool to see them in Togiak. It was fun to hear all the kids talking about them and being excited about them too. I will admit that I broke a lock-in rule half way through the night and took a group of kids out on the porch to see the northern lights. The whistled and whistled at them. There's a Yup'ik tale that if you whistle at the northern lights they'll come down and "get" you, which would have discouraged me from whistling at them, but apparently the students don't believe the tale.
The lock-in was very small and laid back compared to past years. We had an attendance requirement this year that made many people ineligible to come. Students were not allowed to have any unexcused absences the week of the lock-in and could have no more than 1 excused absence. This may not seem like a strict rule for those of you in the lower 48, but this made about half of our student body ineligible to come. I was worried with the low numbers kids would get bored and then get into trouble, but they were tame. I ended up spending quite a bit of time sitting down with students and teaching them how to play different card games. I helped some kids learn to better hit a volleyball (you know it's bad when you have to learn volleyball skills from me . . . ), and I even participated in the late night talent show. All in all I am happy with how it went and overjoyed that I'm looking back at it now and not anticipating it.