Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Spring Time in Jordan Valley

To answer my last blog Yes it has stopped snowing for the most part.  (We did have a light dusting on Friday)  The high desert is green, the birds are singing and all is good with the weather in Jordan Valley.

We are on our final count down of the school year.  About three weeks left of school.  Just like when you were in school everyone is excited for the summer.  Especially when it is in the 70's outside and no snow clouds in site. Some of the things that have been going on and are yet to come are:

      Prom:  Do you remember your high school prom?  I never went to mine but since high school I have attended 27 proms.  The excitment was lost long ago but it is interesting to see how things have changed over the years here in Jordan Valley.  When I first came here 27 years ago we had about 90 students in grades 9-12.  Now we have 36.  We have always alllowed all grades to attend because of our small size.  Most students bring dates from out of town and now because of our small girl population we allow boys to bring more than one out of town date.    This year my junior class was responsible for choosing the decorations, purchasing the decorations, building the prom, and hosting the event.  We worked all year in the concession stand to pay for prom so money was not an issue.  We decided to have the event in the old gym but because of our small student body we create a small space by using daming plastic, bailing twine, and wooden post.  The theme this year was Island Getaway.  With a class of 6 boys and 1 girl I was worried what the boys would pick out for decorations.  The first thing they wanted was a blow up cooler that was a palm tree.  I thought oh my this could end up tacky.  My wonderful class for the most part stayed away from the tacky and created a wonderful Prom.  We had palm tree and tourches that were purchased in a kit with pages of instructions.  (Yes at first the boys wanted to use REAL tourches. but when I reminded them that the walls were daming plastic they understood that fire and plastic may not work well together) They spent a week putting the event together as I cooked them dinner.  Not an easy task for a single person.  The night of prom my students were so excited and proud of what they accomplished.  This is one of those moments as a teacher that melts your heart.  When students are proud of their accomplishments that is the icing on the cake.The day of Prom I went to town to get food for the event.  We went with all kinds of fruit, lots to drink, chease, meat and crackers.  I told the boys that I would be at the school in the afternoon cutting up the fruit and if they needed me they could stop by.  Well about 1 pm the first wave stopped to get a snack so I stopped to cook them some hambugers.  Then about 3 pm the second wave arrived to ask how to tie a bow tie.  How am I to know.  Thanks to the internet we figured it out.  At 4 pm the dates and the boys came by so I could meet them.  I thought this was cute.  I did not even ask but all six of the boys came by, they did have a snack of course.  At 6 we had pictures. All the students were dressed so nice.  The boys looked dapper and the girls were stunning.  Purple the the popular color this year for some reason.  Before the dance started all the students must take a breathlizer test.  Once they do this then they can not leave. Most schools are so big that they do not take this step but being small we are able to make sure that students do not come to school events under the influence.  The kids had a wonderful time and I did too.

    Senior Projects:  The state of Oregon requires students to present a project based on their career choice. Our students must to a research project on an issue assoicated with their career, a job shadow, and a community project that is linked to their career.  At the end of the year they give a speech and poweroint presentation of their project and their future plans.  They seniors have 52 minutes a day all year long to work on this project.  Today they are making their presentations and some of them just started working on the project seriously.  They did the main pieces along the way but they also have a bunch of reflection questions they must answer.  This is what has been put off.  Since Monday they have been running around like a chicken with this head cut off.  I wish I could take away the stress but it is part of life so all I can is listen and let them know they are more ready then they know.  There is a part of me that does want to tell them you have had all year to do this but what good would that do.  As a senior I do give them a long rope to hang themselves but I will not let them fail.  For many the project is a postive learning experience if they can live through it. 

   Rodeo:  The Jordan Valley Big Loop Rodeo is the third weekend in May.  In the olden days school was out this weekend.  This year we will be going to school for another week after rodeo.  My class has decided to sell Chirizos and legal weeks during the rodeo dance which is held at the high school.  I did tell my boss and my students that I am nervous exposing my students to people that may be drinking too much.  My boss said did not understand my concern because according to her all the students have seen their parents drink too much.  I do know that in a small town their is more gossip then most but I don't think that all my students are exposed to parents that have had to much to drink.  Even if they have I do not make it a habit to cook Chirizos for people that have had to much to drink.  Anyways I am going to help my students make some extra money and hope for the best and plan for the worse.  What else can a teacher do.

     End of the year activities:  Field Day, Awards Deserts, Town Clean Up, Last Minute Field Trips, Graduation, 8th Grade Graduation, FFA Banquet, and of course the Town Dinner After Graduation.  All these activities are wonder gathering events for the town but it can be a tad much.  I feel sorry for my parents that have students in grade school, middle school and high school.  Of course it would not be the end of the year with out these activities. 

     Ranch Life:  In the middle of all these school activities the ranch work still needs to get done.  This time of year the ranchers are busy branding their new babies so they can turn the cows out onto the range.  They put them on the range for the summer so they can harvest the hay fields that the cows are on during the winter.  Many of our ranching students love the brandings.  It is a "fun" time for many.  Since they were babies they have help their dads and grandads with the branding activities.  The roping, the branding, the giving of shots, and of course the making of Rocky Mountain Oysters.  Many of the girls also enjoy branding time.  Some are stuck in the house with their mothers cooking up a storm but many are right alongside the men getting the branding done.  All the fun is done duirng the school day so this time of year attandance goes down.  I tell my students that it is a family decision but I do expect them to get their homework done.  I do not complain or tell them that school is more important like some of our younger teachers.  This does not do any good.  All it does it put the student in a spot between the teacher and their parents.  Parents always win and most of the time this is fine with me.

  As you can see life in Jordan Valley this time of year is busy.  The days are long and I am sore at night but at least I have a good reason for being sore.  I am finishing my 27th year teaching here in Jordan Valley, a frontier school in the high desert of Oregon.  My family at times thinks I am crazy to live in a place with none of the modern conviences of the city such as a grocey store, a movie house, or a doctor office.  The city is only 60 miles away which takes only an hour to drive since there is no traffic. Jordan Valley may be in a time worp but I do not lock my car or my house,  crime is minimal, I am queen of my classroom, the students do have respect for teachers, and there is a feeling of calm around.  Of course no place is perfect but my mom once told me that no matter where you live always find the beauty.  When she married she left the greeness of Oregon for the browns of Barstow.  She told me that she found the sunrises and sunsets the most beautiful things she had ever seen.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Will it stop snowing????Ever

A few months ago in the winter we were so glad that we did not have snow. It was very cold, below 0 but now snow. Well this luck has not lasted.....

I guess the weather gods heard the rancher's prayers and decided to give us some water the problem is that the temp has not gone up enough so for the last two weeks we have had nothing but snow. Not winter snow but spring snow. Otherwise known as pain in the behind snow. It snows in the morning just as you are getting to leave for work. Enough that it slows everybody down and the buses run late.

Then as my students and I watch, it is a blizard until about the end of second hour, which is 9 am for those of you who have been out of school for a while. Then it starts to heat up and we have to worry about sluch and mud. Lots of mud. Mud from the ground and mud from the gravel that they put on the road in the morning.

I love the snow because the world is so peaceful in the snow but I am ready for spring. Maybe it will come in time for Spring Break next week.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Jordan Valley Headlines

Once again today we have snow. Yesterday it was in the high fifties and last night a storm came in and by morining we had a layer of ice with 3 or so inches on tope. Good things I only have to drive 4 blocks to school.

Baskeball is over. Both the boys and the girls made it to the district tournment. The girls got 3rd and the boys got second. The boys made it to the second round of the state playoffs but lost to Hood River.

This Thrusday is the end of the second nine weeks. For some reason it is the hardest nine weeks for the kids. Maybe because we do not have many breaks. Grades tend to go down but then they usually come up before the end of the semester. Since semester grades are the only ones that go on transcrips this is a good thing for students.

My juniors and I are starting to plan prom. Our budget is $1,000. The music will cost $300 so we have $700 for decorations, crowns, and food. This should be enough. With only about 45 students the space we have to decorate is not much. Since we only have 6 girls in the high school most of the students find dates from out of town. We even let them bring more than one date.

Most of the ranchers are in the middle of breeding season. I do not think I would like a job that requires me to go out in the field covered with snow to see if any claves have been born. It the cold the calves can freeze kinda quickly so you need to keep an eye on things. I am glad I am a teacher.

We went on a field trip last week to Treasure Valley Community College in Ontario. The kids went to defferent classes on what the college has to offer. The next day when I talked to the students there were more comments about funny clothes that people were wearing. We are so sheltered. Hopefully these little trips will intorduce my students to the human race. I do worry that some will not be able to make it awary form here.

For the first time in years I had to supend a sutudent because he swore at me. He has already apologied and I apologied back.

Best news of the month: Baby Brooklyn has arrived. Like her mom was she is a little on the small side but she looks perfect in every way

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Things I Have Learned From Living in Jordan Valley

I am on my 26th year of teaching in my wonderful small town of Jordan Valley. I must say that time has flown. I am not sure it was in my plans 26 years ago to stay here to long but I have really come to love this little slow pace western town. I thought I would take some time and share with you what I have learned living here.

1. No spurs in the classroom. It scratches the floor finish and they can be considered a deadly weapon if two students get in a fight.

2. According to my students it would take them most of the day to ride their horses to school. Even tho on the old time western shows it only took them a couple minutes. To help students out we do have one bus route and students are paid milege to drive to the bus stop or to school.

3. Sports are the social events of the town. Eveyone seems to come to the games but not just to watch the students but to get caught up on community events. Basketball games are usually a "sold out" event.

4. We do have religon here. For a town of less than 500 we have a methodist church, a morman church, a catholic church and two "christian" churches. This does not mean that eveyone is in church on sunday but if they want to attend they have lots of places to choose from.

5. You live in a glass house. Everyone seems to know everything or at least they think so. I was warned in college that small town teachers live in glass houses but I think everyone in the community is in a glass house.

6. Students do more good things then all the bad things that make the newspaper. By in large all students are wonderful young people. They do make stupid mistakes but I have never met a students that was truly mean. I am amazed how willing they are to run errands for me and how respectful they can be.

7. Parents play a BIG role in education. Parents that talk with the children not just about school but about life are helping their children. I have found that Parents approval is a very important motivator. If a child thinks that a parent will "kill them" if they do not do something it seems to work as a motivator. So does Parents just asking how things are going.

8. Don't go to the bar in town for drinks. You might run into some of those gossip people or some of your students.

9. Children always want a snow day. (like today it has been snowing since school started) However we have only had 2 snow days in the 26 years I have been teaching here. If the bus can run then we have school. I asked one of my students what if you were stucked here tonight. That did not go over very well.

10. We live in a zoo. Although Deer are the most common wild animal around. We do get warning of couger, coyote, skunk, rattle snakes and other animals in town from time to time. They are great to look at from inside but they will come after you if you go into their space. They will also eat your flowers.

11. The hour drive to "the valley" (Nampa or Boise Idaho) is not fun in the snow but when the weather is nice it is not that bad. There is no traffic so you can drive the speed limit. Don't go over since we have the deadlist highway in Oregon and speeding tickets are expensive. Do you really need to "go to the valley" only if you want food, entertainment, or a doctor. There are some people that do not leave Jordan Valley.

12. Do not leave Jordan Valley with less than 1/4 a tank of gas. The next gas station is 40 miles one way and 35 miles other way. Of course this gas is expensive!

13. When the chips are down people come out of the wood work to help you out. When I have had my surgries over the years all types of people cook food, offer rides, pick up my mail or what ever I need.

14. Cattle are rasied as business. The rancher students claim that cows are not very smart so it is easy to raise them as a crop. But they are cute when they are born.

15. Real cowboys were Wranglers not Levis. Something about the inseem is better on Wranglers and will not rub in the saddle. I act like I know what they are talking about but I really do not. I can guess that it would hurt if jeans have a inseam that rubs.

16. At our school we really do not have big problems. With only 36 students in 7-12 we do not have a large share of major happenings. I think it has been a couple years ago since I gave a student detention and back then it was for back talking. Our students are exposed to the drug world but we do not have a lot of issues at school. We have had a graduation rate of 100% for most of my 26 years here. Maybe this is because students get a lot of individual attention, but the students and parents also play a BIG role in this.

17. I have learned to enjoy the small stuff. The beautiful sunrises or sunsets. The clamness of a snow fall. The blackness of the country at night with no lights. The smile of a childs face when they finalize they are right. The excitment in Baylor and Johonna's viedos. Just to name a few.

18. The excitment in a student's voice is priceless when they tell me of the girl or boy that they like spending time with. Young love is so special.

19. The appriciation of my students when I bring them treats from Costoc. Poppy Seed Muffins and Sunny D or Orange Juice are their favorite. When I do this I have a lot of students that tell me they love me.

20. I have learned that no matter when you live each and every day is special. You can find beauty in each and every day. I learn something new each day and it is usually something about myself. Life is so wonderful and each and every day I am thankful just for being alive.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Turkey Trots

Every year on the last day before Thanksgiving break we have a school competition called Turkey Trots. The students come up with a variety of events and we have are little red neck Turkey Trots. The students win points that count toward the class of the year. It also means that the kids get out of the last class of the day!!

The morning started with a wonderful sunrise. You never know will God will let you see the beauty of what he creted. When I got to school Iasked my first period class, the seniors, if they were excited. You can tell my Meagan's reaction that she was not excited.

Following are pictures are of the different events. I am amazed what students will do. The picture below shows the quick change basketball shot. One boy from each class runs down the court changes into the clothes that are in the sleeping bag and takes the ball and runs down to the other end of the court and makes a basket. The first to do all of this is the winner. The sleeping bags are provided so the boys will change inside the bag, over the years the boys have become braver. I do not think any of then used the sleeping bags. The few girls in the school did not mind. The winner was the freshman class.The next event was the sling shot. The picture shows my Junior class. Some one from the class sits on the schooter and two others use a sheet to sling him down the gym floor. My junior class won this event. Our smallest sat on the schooter and two others flung him down the court.

The event below is the bat drill race. A team of four is used for this event. One at a time someone runs down the court to the bat, spins around 3 thimes and then runs back and tags the next person in line. This is Blane showing his skills. My juniors won this event as well.

We do have some events that turn my stomach and the whip cream chug is one of them. A team of four stands in a circle and chugs from the whip cream can. The the whistle blows they pass the can to their team mate. Since my Junior boys have huge empty stomachs they won this event.This year we had a new event. It was called Beauty Contest. One boy from each class was dressed up into a dress, makeup, hair and accessories. They only had four mintues to complet the dressing process. Then each boy walked the runway posed. A group of parents were the judges. The first picture below is Tyrell the junior rep and then the next picture is Quin the senior. The freshman won and Tyrell was second.The next event was the potato catch. One team member threw a potato and a second team member caught it in a garbage sack. Once again the Junior Class won.This is another one of those events that turns my stomach. Some one lays on the floor with a cup in their mouth. The next team member stands on a chair and trys to drop an egg into the cup. Each class has 3 eggs and who ever gets the most egg stuff in their cup wins. The freshman class won this event.A turky trot is not complete without the eatting ice cream with no hand as you lay on the floor. This is Ty and Blaine two of my empty stomach juniors. The of course won this event. Pushing a penny across the floor with your nose. This is senior James. This was done right after the ice cream event and once again the Juniors won.

The last event of the day is the booty scoot. The entire class sits on the floor and connects legs. Then the scoot acroos the floor. The is a picture of the entire senior class (minus one) as they get ready to start this event. Yes we have only 8 students in the senior class. The junior class won this event. At the end of the race Ty said "I have the world's worse wedge"

You may have figured out that my juniors were the big winners. They are in first place for the class of the year which is their goal. The next event is the can food drive. To make things more exciting the class that brings the most food gets to hit thier advisor in the face with a cream pie. Don't worry becasue of my asthma the boss did not think I should take part, so if my class wins they will get to hit Mr. Usable in the face. I will be sure and let you know which class wins.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

What is a Chucker?

In response to my recent blog Michelle asked what a chucker is. From what the kids tell me it is a bird about the size of a chicken. I guess it does not taste like chicken. According to James it is more tender and juicy. Below is a picture. Even tho I have lived in Jordan Valley for 26 years I have never eaten a Chucker. (That I know of)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Story of the Day

The kids were talking about the 'good" Chicken Noodle Soup they had for lunch. One of my students said that his mom made the best Chucker Noodle Soup for dinner. He said that it was the best soup he had the only problem is that every once in awhile he would come across a bb.