And today definitely was great.
We've been talking about going ice fishing every winter since I was hired. For a whole bunch of reasons, it never came together. This time, it did. We teamed up with our middle school counterparts and went to my former colleague's ice shack for the day. Our two programs started teaming up for field trips when he took over at the middle school; sadly, he's battling cancer at the moment so is unable to teach... but he can still catch a mean fish. He's come back to visit us a few times this school year, so it was really nice to meet up with him on his turf.
We had a wonderful day! Bright sun, warm(ish) temps... although the wind was a bit brisque, the conditions were pleasant. 13 students from both programs took us up on the offer, and they weren't disappointed. We brought along some ice skates, and they skated and laughed and fished and laughed... all the while enjoying the great outdoors with some great friends.
Days like these are where the magic really happens: they let down their collective guard and just enjoy being kids. For those of us watching them struggle with the transition from childhood to adulthood, being able to provide them with positive experiences -- and positive memories-- means expanding their horizons just a bit... and that little expansion has the potential to change their future. For me personally, watching kids thrive in their natural element is so rewarding. I'm under no delusions that any of my Sunshines love being in any class, even if it is mine, so to see them content makes those frustrating classroom days a lot easier to take. And the major life lessons learned on days like this-- that there are positive things to do with your time that don't harm your bodies or minds; that excercise and being outdoors is good for the soul; that lauging with friends is a great way to spend a day; and that going out of your way to meet up with someone who needs a visit is never a wasted trip-- well, what better thing can schools teach?
My friend says repeatedly that "I may not be here for a long time, but I'm definitely here for a good time". He's on a break from treatments, and is enjoying every minute before he starts up again in May. I have no doubt that we will all remember today as one of those good times.