Not long ago, a decision was made to make a significant improvement to the home found at 601 Blackhawk. This proved to be a good news, bad news kind of thing. The good news focused around the fact that the job foreman estimated the cost of the project could be greatly diminished believing that a crew of one could handle the job. The bad news, I was the crew of one but wait, it gets worse, much worse. In order to complete this home improvement project, it would involve the inclusion of two things I do not have a fondness for, ladders and gravity.
I have an interesting relationship with ladders. It would seem that my weight distribution and my center of gravity causes a ladder to shake uncontrollably. Growing up on the farm, there were several occasions where a ladder was the tool of the trade. It didn't seem to matter the height attained on the ladder or the task at hand. Whenever I was on the ladder the thing would gyrate, shake, rattle and roll and yet, stand perfectly still when dad hopped on. As a matter of fact, the time dad thought he should put me on the ladder, which was sitting in the loader bucket of the tractor, and I was instructed to climb up and fix the hay fork going into the barn I was somewhat hesitant. This proved to be more costly than initially anticipated. Clearly the tractor was painted a Farmall Red before my ascent. Only primer covered the tractor once I returned to solid ground. Once I hit terra firma I found dad and lots of little red paint chips scattered about the tractor.
At this point you are likely wondering, "So where is he going with all of this?" That is a great question. The improvement to the Boheman household involved replacing windows and unfortunately I live in a two story house. The part of the job I find less than enjoyable is climbing up the ladder to caulk the windows. I remembered what my dad told me. "There is no logical reason to have a fear of heights. Just marvel at the new perspective you have on your surroundings" he used to say. So after a deep breath and a quick check of my crucifix, I headed up.
When I reached the top of the ladder on my first window, I remembered what dad told me when I reached the hay fork at the top of the ladder those many years ago. "Now, a fear of accelerating toward the earth at the speed of sound only to come to an instantaneous stop, oh yeah that makes perfect sense." (Dad had kind of a warped sense of humor) I soon realized that you can not caulk windows while holding onto the ladder with both hands. My method just didn't seem to work and besides that, caulk leaves a nasty after taste.
I decided it best to take my mind off the Grimm Reaper standing on the last rung of the ladder and occupy my mind with other thoughts. As the sweat dripped off my forehead, thinning my paint to the consistency of really runny water, I set my mind to thinking about all the "stuff" that has gone on at GR over the years. Some of my thoughts were somewhat blurred but that was simply a combination of dementia and the shaking ladder seemed to blur my vision.
If you were to research the "perfect school," you would likely not see a picture of GR but then, is there any school worthy of that distinction? Every school has its warts and there is always room for improvement. Good schools are schools that work toward that goal of perfection knowing that you may never get there but you are always trying. I think that describes what goes on at GR There are a LOT of great things going on here and I would stack our school up against any of the other schools in the area. A part of me wishes I still had kids in school involved in athletics. We have some of the most talented, dedicated coaches anyone can find at our level and they and their kids have accomplished a great deal. Walk into the gym sometime and just look around at all the banners hanging from the walls. Not only have we recently had football, basketball, cross country, soccer, baseball golf and track represent us in the state tournament, we are running out of room in the trophy case. Championships in basketball and football along with a top four finish in soccer speak pretty well of our kids and certainly our coaching staffs. Coaches Olson, McQuillen, Kiburis, Dinsdale, Bixby, Anderson and Charley have put us on the map in the state of Iowa and we should be very proud of them and our kids. Several years ago, Coach Bailey brought something to GR called the system and it resulted in some pretty exciting girls basketball as well as a national scoring record. I'm extremely proud of our kids and coaches.
Championships are earned not given and all of these people have worked hard to represent GR in impressive fashion.
Athletics is not the only place you can find people who are great at their job and genuinely care about the kids we have. If your mission is to find a more qualified, hard working school secretary than Pam Heitoff, you may be reliving an episode of Mission Impossible. If Pam were to not be at the helm, I for one would be sitting the corner sucking my thumb wondering what I had forgot to do today or what I most recently messed up. She keeps us all in line and makes sure the ship stays afloat. If you are in search of a package deal, a better secretary AND a better high school principal, now you have bitten off a great deal more than you can chew. Mr. McQullien is respected by the students, the staff and everyone else who sets foot in our building. He has been a breath of fresh air for all of us and we are extremely lucky to have him on board.
I am a person who is unable to draw stick people, it's genetic. When my ancestor "Ug" tried cave painting, the only comment you heard from his fellow cave dwellers was, "Who the heck showed Ug where we were hiding the paint and brushes!" The things I see Mrs. Nelson do with our kids in her art classes amazes me. The projects she has her kids doing are fantastic. She has them concocting things that blow my mind. There is definitely a reason why you often see her mentioned as a seniors favorite teacher in their senior profiles.
Since I am neither talented or gifted, I am always impressed with what Mrs. K does with our kids. Mrs. Kiburis does a phenomenal job with our TAG program here. She has kids problem solving the heck out of things and I can tell you she challenges those kids every day in her room. In addition to that, if you find yourself in a somewhat gloomy mood, spend a few minutes with this lady and you will wonder why you can't stop laughing.
Our kids have won awards in speech, FFA projects, and over the years our cheerleaders have done us proud as well in various competitions. School plays and musicals are always entertaining as well. I think this little literary masterpiece is already gone way too long so I won't mention any more of the success stories here at GR but believe me, there are many. Simply put, we have some talented kids being taught by some pretty talented teachers.
The list of great things happening at GR gets longer each and every year. I myself feel lucky to be here. I was approached last year by our superintendent who, at the time, informed me I was eligible for retirement. I have to tell you, it's not a six figure income that keeps me coming back, it's the kids and the school I am a part of. I think GR is a pretty special place to send kids for their informative years and I think we do a pretty good job of what we do.
The possibility now exist that Gladbrook-Reinbeck could be separated by more than just a hyphen. In my opinion, for what it's worth, I'm not convinced that would be what is best for our kids. I also realize that if that were to happen, that would mean a lot of teachers and coaches would suddenly be unemployed. Being one of those people, I am not crazy about this possibility, but at the same time, if someone can convince me that such a move is best for our kids then hey, it's what should happen. It's not about me and what is best for me, it is what is best for our kids.
I know we have lost some kids to open enrollment due to some of the decisions that have been made regarding our district. I really hate to see that happen but not because these kids have a dollar sign stamped on their forehead. It is because the kids here are why I'm not currently greeting you at Walmart wishing you a nice day. Becoming GR allowed me the opportunity to coach people from Gladbrook such as Chad and Justina Mercer, the Pierce boys, Jill Arp, the Siemens boys and Emily Stoakes just to mention a few. It provided me the opportunity to teach people such as the Martin boys, the Reinhard girls, the Mussig kids and the Fagan fellas. This is just a VERY small list of all the kids this GR thing has provided me the opportunity to get to know. Don't get me wrong. I am not saying that they would have been denied my coaching or teaching talents. I guarantee you there are coaches and teachers out there much better at this gig than I am. I would be the one that was short changed not having the chance to get to know these kids and stay in touch with them over the years.
I have droned on long enough but I'll close with this final Boheman thought (that means it is my opinion). I am not the smartest guy on the planet, there are many who question if I even make the list of one the top 7 billion smartest people on the planet. Having said that, this is how I feel. As far as I am concerned this GR thing has been working pretty well. I believe Gladbrook, Reinbeck, Morrison, Lincoln, Dinsdale and every square mile is between are great places to raise kids. That, I believe, is where our energy should be placed, getting the word out that this is a great place to send your kids. If we did that then maybe some of our problems might find a more suitable end. I hope that 50 years from now, the only thing separating Gladbrook and Reinbeck is still only a hyphen.
Having said all that, I have one final question for those much older and wiser than I. Most people who find themselves at the top of ladder getting swarmed by hornets place the greatest amount of concern on the possibility of getting stung. Have you ever thought of this? What would happen if, by some stroke of fate, they somehow were able to synchronize the beat of their wings. Is there any chance that could compromise the stability of a ladder???!!! I'm just thinking out loud???!!!! And if anyone has an anti-shake ladder, give me a call.