Today is Wednesday, but the students are treating it like a Friday. For Black Forest Academy, Spring Break starts tomorrow, and it lasts for over two weeks. While many (including me when I first discovered this) may groan in resentful envy at a 17-day Spring Break, it has been this way for several years. Many of the students actually spend their first week of the break on mission trips to various countries. This year, student teams are preparing for excursions to Tanzania, Macedonia, Tajikistan, Greece and Burkina Faso.
However, unlike last year, it really does look and feel like spring outside. The sun is shining for the third day in a row. The temperature is up to sixty-four degrees today (in Fahrenheit – I still don’t know what that might be in Celsius, nor do I understand what kind of day people are describing when they say, “Hey, it’s s’posed to get up to 18 tomorrow.”) Nevertheless, in Fahrenheit or in Celsius, the birds are chirping and flitting from branch to stairwell banister to rooftop. The Kander, which flows through the heart of Kandern, ripples along, fed by a gradual thaw from the mountains. Students blow off any actual advanced study hall work and choose instead to lounge outside, soaking up the sun for the first time since last October.
And then there is me. I sit inside at my little teacher-prep desk, click-clacking out a blog post because I feel one is overdue (and it is). There’s a large window to my right. There is a sunbeam on the floor. My last class before the break starts in ten minutes. When I enter my classroom, my eyes will fall upon a stack of Poetry Project portfolios, analysis papers and a collection of Honors literature tests still in need of grading. After school today, I will change into more comfortable attire and head over to the gym where I will assist in the set-up for an international Christian educator’s conference hosted here at BFA. Later, I will man the “hospitality desk,” offering directions and advice to outsiders about how to navigate our tiny German campus. Most likely those portfolios and essays will be sitting in front of me at the table.
When I wander back to my classroom in … now seven minutes … it will not feel like Spring Break has begun. However, all I have to do is look outside and see overwhelming evidence to the contrary, at least in terms of the first word. And the first word is the one that holds lasting joy. The students may be all smiles today because of the second word, but I know that their budding feelings of freedom exist only because the sun is shining and the birds are chirping and the temperature has risen out of the Ice Age. Without “spring,” Spring Break is nothing more than a long, boring weekend.
So, let’s have one more literature class, and then let’s close the books (for now), loosen the tie (for now) and step out into the sunshine. Some Vitamin D will do us some good, even if the essays and the tests won’t leave us alone.