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24 hours in Lawrence Community stories

How to chronicle one hour in a day?

The choices are endless

May 22, 2007

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How to chronicle one hour in a day that seemed so boring in retrospect, yet so out of the ordinary at the same time?

Do I choose the first hour of the day, which began an hour earlier than usual? Before breakfast I was printing off lesson plans for a substitute, hurriedly packing my lunch, and filling my to-go mug with coffee. Breakfast consisted of a peanut butter sandwich that I would eat later at school. Deciding what to wear had been easy a fellow faculty member asked us to wear black today in honor of another faculty member's 30th birthday, so I chose my black "Save the Drama for the Stage" t-shirt that was our official West Junior Players shirt for the previous school year. My two children were barely out of bed when I had to leave to make the five minute drive to West Junior High School. My husband would have to drop them off at preschool without me before he went to work at Free State High School. We usually carpool. Unusual but uneventful beginning.

I could chronicle my first hour at school spent checking light cues and going over last minute instructions with my three light crew members (one in each grade seven, eight, and nine) before the next four hours of assemblies got underway. I was running lights for the 100-plus member chorale spring show, a rock/pop concert complete with professional rock combo accompaniment and lots of flashy lights. This was the first time in my four years at West that I had agreed to run lights for the spring show. My assistant drama director was helping out on sound. However, there really were no noteworthy "behind the scenes" glimpses I could write about. Everything was well planned, and we were prepared. Much easier gig than directing a play with 50 80 junior high students. I settled into my perch in the light booth, ate my sandwich, and drank my coffee.

We had to have two assemblies because only half of the student body will fit into the Sally Six Hersh Auditorium. Each assembly lasted 90 minutes would it be cheating to condense the time into a story that is supposed to chronicle an hour? The assemblies went fairly smoothly. We ran our cues with only minor incident, taking random dance breaks to songs written before these students were born such as "Taking Care of Business," "Walking on Sunshine," "Poison Ivy," "Proud Mary," and the theme song "I've Got the Music in Me." The student body audience was more subdued than I expected. I only saw two students texting with cell phones from my perch up high, and that was surprising. I noted with pride that our performing arts students were still working so hard at the end of the school year when so many other students had already "checked out" with only 9 official school days left. And this was just their dress rehearsal. They had three public performances after these two assemblies. Many of the chorale students are also involved in the drama program, and as soon as the spring show is over they will pester me about what fall production I have planned. They live for performing.

The hour after the assemblies included teaching my only class that day due to the rearranged assembly schedule. The last hour of my work day was my planning time. Should I chronicle for posterity how I spent my time reading and answering the e-mails I had neglected for hours, or how I tracked down some students from my first class to ask them why they had been disrespectful to my substitute, or how I lamented that yet another plan period would go by leaving no time for grading or planning? I had to return to the auditorium to fix some lighting cues that hadn't looked quite right during the assemblies.

The hour after school we had a faculty meeting. I was so tired that I struggled to keep my eyes open. Maybe I shouldn't report that.

At home there wasn't much to report either. I enjoyed my only half hour of silence and solitude before I picked my daughter up at preschool. My son was at his weekly art class for preschoolers at the Lawrence Arts Center, and he would come home later covered in paint. My husband had taken him and would pick him up. I was too tired to cook the meal we so carefully planned and shopped for on the previous weekend, so I ordered a sausage and tomato pizza from Wheat State Pizza, our favorite after Rudy's and Papa Keno's. Is that worth reporting?

The most intriguing news of the day came after dinner, but it only had 'mom' value. While playing outside in the front yard, my son and daughter took turns describing the bugs they had found on the playground at preschool. Their meticulous and awed descriptions were accompanied by lively hand gestures and funny facial expressions. I took photos.

At the end of my day, I was left with no dramatic events to chronicle. Nothing in my day seemed compelling enough to make an interesting story. Maybe I just didn't look hard enough for an angle. Not a normal day in my life, nor the most interesting, but maybe I was just too busy and too tired to know otherwise.

Lisa Greenwood is a fellow in the Citizen Journalism Academy.

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