STEVE COKER: Sap’s arising!

CJ-041714-Steve-Coker-1COne of my very favorite trees in this area is the “River Birch.”

It is cherished because of the beautiful flakey white bark that it exhibits year ’round and because its leaf foliage is of such a nature that grass will grow under it. The other day as I tipped several limbs that were too long, sap or liquid poured out the clipped stubs like water out of a faucet. Yes, that is one of the clearest examples of what the old saying means when, as the warm weather returns, the sap rises.
What that really means is that nature is about ready for spring as the warm days call up the nourishing fluids that create leaves and repair the weathered bark from winter. It literally means that life and energy has returned to fulfil God’s promise of renewal.
In the school district, the same thing occurs in the spring. That happens as nature steps up its game. The boy’s baseball team, girl’s softball program, track and tennis, as well as golf, “strut their stuff” as the climate moderates and those activities move outside. Also, there’s Jr./Sr. prom, band concerts and spring football practice.
In the elementary schools there are spelling bees, reading contests and field day activities. Also, the little children will start peas and beans in cups and place them on the window sills to watch them grow, bird eggs of various types will be brought in and put on display and an occasional mouse, green snake or funky fish will appear in a classroom for observation.
All of the little children will be so excited!
And, academic testing and evaluation of student progress begins. Yes, about thirty days of it. The end of course tests, the state reading tests, the MCT test, the Common Core test, the final exams, the SAT college entrance exam and so on! It is absolutely the most exasperating time for teachers as they scurry to get everyone ready for these evaluations.
And then, amid all these activities, the sap truly does rise in the students. The seniors feel like they know everything about anything because they are, of course, seniors.
The juniors are tired of the seniors and want them to graduate so that they can now be the seniors and have a whole year to do it.
And of course, with spring popping out everywhere, everybody is in love. They are in love with the girl next door, the guy on the baseball team, that freckled-faced kid down the hall with red hair, that big-eyed girl in math class.
They are also in love with their music, mac and cheese and of course, themselves.
Our schools are off again running 24-7 starting with breakfast, academic instruction, after-school tutoring and nightly athletic competitions.
It is four more weeks of organized madness which culminates at graduation on Thursday, May 22, for seniors and students, and Friday, May 23, for teachers.
Everyone breathes a sigh of relief!
By then, the sap has finished rising, Mother Nature has put on a full parade at Easter and we roll into the wonderful lazy days of summer. And just think, it all happens because the sap rises in everything.

Dr. Steve Coker is Superintendent of the Houston School District. He can be reached at 456-3332.

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