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Column: Reflections from the Middle School

WORTHINGTON -- I recently ended another year, my 20th with District 518, and I have thoughts swarming in my head that I need to let out.

What a year it was. None of us could have imagined when we arrived in September that we would be packing boxes with electricians hanging from our ceiling tiles in May.

A few of us -- Scott Barber, Tim Doeden and I -- are in a unique position here at Worthington Middle School. We have been here for all the physical changes of this building. As seventh- and eighth-grade students 28 years ago, we helped move supplies to this building in preparation for opening day. We traveled back and forth to the old school, reloading supplies and bringing boxes and equipment to the new rooms. We played in the Worthington Area Junior High Spartan Band at the groundbreaking ceremony and were here for opening day at Worthington Area Junior High.

Funny -- what I remember most about that first day is Dave Suman pulling me aside in the office and analyzing the length of my mini-skirt trying to decide if he should send me home or not!

Scott, Tim and I were here when the plans were under way and the south addition was built in preparation for sixth-grade's arrival and the transition to middle school just a few years ago. Now, here we are today preparing for the addition of fifth grade to our building almost 30 years later.

I need to reflect because construction wasn't easy. My room is on the front lines, so to speak, of construction, and it was challenging. The bouncing of my pictures off my filing cabinet due to the earth-moving equipment, the shaking of the projector to the point of having to stop student presentations because they can't read their captions on screen, the roar of the drill bit penetrating the concrete blocks ... such fond memories. I tried to keep it together, but the day they sawsalled the siding outside my north wall was too much. I went out and told them rather emphatically they had to stop because I needed to teach. I was not a pillar of patience that day.

Then, there was the day we were testing and through the new hole in my wall we heard, "That's a real nice cut right there." But, in the end, I survived, and my students -- being more resilient than I -- actually enjoyed the daily construction drama in my room. I need to learn from them to flow more easily with that which I can't change in life.

Then we tossed, packed and moved boxes. It was an exhausting end to the school year. Coming back early this year, late summer, to what most likely will be construction projects that will still need to be fine-tuned will again bring challenges. As teachers we will keep hope and faith alive through all the change, because we love kids and love what we do -- teach. Hope also springs from the faces of those that we will teach. Knowing that the fourth-graders are excited to come here will inspire me in the fall. Jacob Prunty in our halls next year? No way; it was just a few years ago he was trick-or-treating at my house as Thomas the Train.

When I sat at my computer after school after a soggy end to a field trip, I heard a young boy on the tour of the school say something to the effect of "this is going to be so cool here next year." My structured nature screamed inside, but from his eyes it will be a new adventure and it will be cool. I need to learn from his wisdom, come back refreshed and help make it a cool experience for all the bright faces that await me in the fall.

Sally Darling teaches eighth-grade social studies at Worthington Middle School.