More often than not, we teachers describe the children in each grade in a collective way. For example, a group of students might be described as a *sweet* class, or a *young* class, or a *super smart* class. My favorite, of course, is when we have a grade full of kids with *personality*. Personality can mean just that, kiddos who aren’t afraid to express their true selves, and sometimes the descriptor personality is code for behaviors. Now, I will take kiddos with either definition of personality all day, but such is not the case with every educator. It can make for a challenging classroom and a long year, but being able to embrace the unique qualities that each child brings to the table is what I thrive on.
When I started as the librarian at Glenwood we had not one, not two, but three grades in a row with a TON of personality – both types. Luke’s grade definitely met this criteria and when you saw these kiddos interact it was something else. The unity, the sense of camaraderie, the joy. As a teacher when you witness a group of children like this, you get the undeniable feeling that they will be friends forever.
Cue Rutland 2011. It’s 8th grade dance time and the kids are all gathered at Justin’s house for pictures. There isn’t just one kid or two kids, it’s the whole dang crew. Some of them have “dates” and some of them are solo, but they are all there. As I look at them and wish I was one of the pretty princesses, I wonder how many of the friendships will last or whether high school will send them on different paths and in different directions. Turns out, I didn’t have to worry. Despite the influx of a few new faces, the group remained the same. I would see pics on social media or they would come over to our house to hang out, or Luke would talk about a gathering and it was always the old reliables from the 01543.
These same kids are the only damn reason Luke went to High School. He just wanted to be where his friends were at, you know? Luke could be fighting the biggest battle with us, with his teachers, with his own head, but spending time with his boys was his band-aid. Luke loved his friends fiercely -so much so that they earned a spot on his letter goodbye we found on the island. I know we all wish we could have saved Luke, but with all the struggles Luke had a school and with his anxiety, the truth is… Luke’s friends saved him every. damn. day.
So here’s what I need you to know: We need roots. I didn’t have any growing up and I swore I would make it happen for my future children. When we moved into our yellow house on Haven Hill Road I told John he would have to drag me out of here if he thought he ever wanted to move. Roots remind you of what made you and Rutland – this fabulous Fourth of July loving small town, cow town, best uptown, best looking girl town (according to Luke Inwood) has its own persona. Long live the 01543!
We also need friends. Friends remind you of WHO made you and the experiences you have together shape you forever. So… Taylor and Jeff, Justin and Dom, Casey and Chris, Sam and Bobby, Brendan and Camden, Katie and Isabelle, Cam and Olivia, Carson and Eric, Dan and Cody and Austin, Ashley and Marissa. Others would come, but You all are the house that built Luke Inwood. You laughed with him and roasted him and put up with his antics. But most of all you loved him and more importantly he knew it. It might have been a short ride, but it was a damn sweet one because of his time with YOU. And for that, each and every one of you have my heart forever. Xxx