Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Back to school

Not actually being in school myself, I love the beginning of the school year.

It still feels like summer but it's starting to feel like fall. It means the anticipation of the new, the chance to start again with a clean slate. The kids dress up in their new school clothes, put their new notebooks in new backpacks and, at least around here, pretend disdain for the school part of school while clearly enjoying the friends part of school. Excellent rituals all.

This year is especially exciting in our households because Franny and Gina are both starting at a new school, which means new kids, new teachers, a new routine. The Center School, located at the big Seattle Center public space just north of downtown, is a small, arts-oriented public high school, with ninth through 12th grades but only a couple hundred kids total. Gina wasn't thrilled with West Seattle High last year as a freshman and wanted to transfer this year to Center, where the film program caught her attention. Franny decided to follow along for her first year of high school.

I took them to an orientation a couple of weeks ago and got a good hit off the place. It's small enough that everyone knows everyone, which, the thinking goes, keeps expectations high and performance up and trouble down. Also, with fewer students there's not enough critical mass to support a lot of cliques. And the academic program seems good. Art is integrated into the core subjects like math, science and humanities, everyone learns Spanish, and the electives include filmmaking and other cool stuff that I think the girls will dig.

The teachers I met seemed smart and into it. The principal is positive in a way that borders on the bothersome chirpy, but she's engaged and accessible. All good.

When school started last week I begged the girls to take a first-day photo and send it to me, a tradition we've been keeping in this family since I was in kindergarten, maybe longer. Of course they didn't do it. But this week, with Greta in Los Angeles recording a new album, the girls are here at Casa M&M and I was able to capture the above second-week photo. (By Matassa family tradition, the pic should have been snapped in the morning, on the way to school, but that's too damn early for me, so this was a getting-home-from-school photo.)

Hard so far to get detailed reports on how things are going. I think it's going to be a little bit of a transition because they don't know anybody there except for Franny's best friend Lacaia, who also got in (there's a waiting list).

I'll say this: They're little geniuses at getting up, getting themselves out of here and taking the bus to school without waking up the grownups. On that basis alone, A+!

Here are a couple snaps from orientation day:


Rita said...

Great to see that family tradition lives on, Mark. I still have more than a few of those first-day-of-school pics, with smiling faces, new clothes and lunch boxes that would be classics today.

The pictures are great and the girls are in a good place, it seems. I'm sure they will love it and do well.

So far, seems like A+s are in the right place - getting themselves up and off quietly without disturbing the 'older generation'.

mich said...

Well, you did better than us. I was sad this year because, for the first time, we failed to get the first-day-of-school snapshot. The kids rebelled, and Manuel and I just didn't have enough energy to push it. Maybe I'll shoot for Week 3...

freda said...

That school sounds so great, I wish I could have gone there. If I had a first day photo, it would have shown me in a navy skirt, blue blouse, stripped navy/blue/white tie, with a badge, long grey socks, black shoes, and navy blazer, with badge. Thank goodness when we reached 15 they allowed us to wear a blue beret, with, you guessed it, a badge, instead of that awful hat. I spent most evenings in detention for not wearing that hat. The school, though the best in Coventry, was as rigid as its uniform, I would have loved a school that offered film, though we did do stage, I guess in those days there was no film.