A Grade School Introductory……….#176 (80’s)

Kiowa Grade School

Kiowa Grade School

.Gary’s first inner structure acquaintance with the South Barber Elementary School, commonly referred to by the populace as,  The Grade School,  was an engrossing colloquium from the past,  built by the WPA in the 19 30’s.  It was inherit from his childhood,  people, places and events of the past instilled some sort of haunting mystical spell, especially the inner walls of a  domain from an earlier era, one that absorbed,  listened,  and witnessing the initiation that was the foundation of those years.

.  From the street the building appears to be a single story structure with the exception of the gym,  but in reality the educational facility has a lower level.   Beneath the east portal and wing resides the cafeteria, kitchen and classrooms.  Beneath the southwest portal is the library,  boiler room and beneath the gym stage on the south resides the girls and boy dressing rooms, on the north the music room.  Normal access to the school was by the Main Street entrances or the Miller street south teacher walkway.  The two west side gym doors allowed access for school bus traffic.  Remaining was a stage exit door, two others on the east wing, the kindergarten being the only classroom to have its own exit door to a sand playground on the south.

.  Gary’s first accordance, entering the building on his first day was the abandon silence.  After a brief search,  discovering a lone person in the building, introducing himself to Shirley Sieber.  Shirley and Ed Hermon being the two departing custodians,  with Shirley agreeing to defer her exit until Pam Cooper  was available, Pam asking and receiving a delay in her starting date.   Shirley very well versed in her duties,  explaining the assignments to be completed during the summer months, most of which had already been accomplished.   The first project Gary was called upon was to assist Shirley in the stripping and waxing of the kitchen and cafeteria floors,  Shirley was well adept in the procedure,   having already accomplished her appointments of classroom floors.  Gary discovering the assignment laborious and somewhat coalescent,  the Kansas summer heat having taken up residency, the buildings window mounted air conditioning units not being allowed to be activated until the teachers arrived at the start of the school year.

.  With Shirley’s departure and Pam’s arrival, the two working together began restoring the rooms to accessibility,  a classroom appearance once again attained, the hall floors the last to be addressed with an effervescent shine.   Glen Piper’s arrival in the building found him presenting a walk thru inspection and an introduction to Juanita Smith,  the newly appointed principal.  The Grade School having done without onsite principal’s in the past, Misses Smith to continued her commission as a fourth and fifth grade english teacher,  as well as the dual role of Grade School principal.  Gary’s work day schedule was a first, an anomaly,  a 50 hour week during the summer months, and the normal school year requiring a 60 hour work week, 12 hours per day,  5 days a week. The school district having found a way of getting around the required overtime.

.  The School buses were gated at the high school,  six 40 passenger Bluebird coaches,  one standard  54 occupancy bus, and three 12 passenger 4 wheel drive Chevrolet suburban’s.   The bus driving assignments were dictated by location, high school custodians Joe Cox and Craig Ragan would provide for the middle school transfer route to Hardtner utilizing 40 passenger buses.   Bud and Pam, both residence of Hardtner would drive suburban’s securing  north and east of highway 281 in Hardtner,  their routes included the non-blacktop  rural roads.   Gary was appointed the longest route, his 1974 Suburban the oldest,  a maroon and gray 4 wheel drive,   his journey encompassing 38 miles,  with 10 miles of dirt road,  supposedly maintained  with the township road grader.  Just prior to the start of school,  Gary notified Glen  he was going to run his route several time to make sure he introduced himself to the parents of his charges, and at the same time projecting an arrival time, enabling the students to be promptly available in the morning.

.  The teachers began arriving before the start of the school year, making ready their classrooms, the Two custodians meeting with Juanita for any additional instructions.   Gary having taken the time to assemble a diagram,  similar to a blueprint of the school, designating all the rooms and areas of the building, presenting it to Pam to discuss  the work responsibility within the building.  Pam glancing at the diagram, apparently having already come to a decision,  immediately asserting she would be responsible for Misses Cantrell and Misses Golliher’s 3rd grade rooms, misses Albright’s 2nd grade room and the Special Ed room.   In addition she would do the girls restrooms,  the administrative offices,  cafeteria floors,  the stairwell and east section of the hall,  then  turning away,  saying it was all she would do

.  Gary finding he had inherited two thirds of the building, with 8 classrooms, Mrs. Forester’s Kindergarten, Mrs. Hills and Thomson’s first grade rooms, …..Mrs. Feaster’s second grade, Mrs. Elwood’s, Millers, Smiths and Mr. McGee’s 4th and 5th grade classrooms, plus the  teachers’ lounge,  the gymnasium, its floor three times daily, stage, bleachers, downstairs dressing rooms, Cathy Cox’s music room, Mrs. McKinley’s library, and three-quarters of the upstairs and all of the downstairs hallways.

.  Additionally he had  two city blocks of yard mowing and edging, plus  the building’s heating system, maintaining the manual fill, low pressure steam boilers,  also replacement duty for the abundant fluorescent lights and ballast, responsible for the school crossing light and the privilege of rising and  lowering the National and State flags on the flag pole each school day. Gary questioned whether the time allotted for his bus route,  the school and its grounds would be sufficient,  the answer would arrive with the start of school.


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