I am the little girl climbing the pole. I was in kindergarten. I remember that pole being a whole lot taller. Also, this was the peak of my athletic career. Who knew I would bloom athletically so early?
I look at that little girl and see her face filled with fear, pride and determination all at the same time. I was trying to reach a goal for the first time I guess. I wouldn’t have been climbing that pole except that it was a school thing. School inspired me to do all kinds of things I would not have done on my own…from climbing that pole to receiving a doctorate degree lots of years later from TCU.
When I close my eyes, I can still remember starting school and my mom and I buying my school supplies. If I breathe deeply I can smell manila paper and freshly sharpened pencils. I remember the joy of a new bottle of glue and a fresh box of crayons. I was the one with the green handled left-handed scissors which never helped me cut anything. I always had something new to wear on the first day of school and felt ready to learn.
I didn’t know it then, but I was a lucky little girl. Not everyone gets to begin school so prepared. Some students show up with no supplies on the first day of school.
For the last seven years in the Grapevine Colleyville ISD, our entire community has come together to insure that all students have a chance to start the school year prepared. With one in four students here falling in the Economically Disadvantaged category, our numbers have forced us to think big and to utilize all resources in order for all students to be ready to learn.
I wish you could see the faces of the students when they arrive at our GCISD Connect Back to School Fair. Their smiles are broad as they see their teachers, principals, counselors and school administrators greeting them. None of the school staff gets paid to be at this Saturday morning fair. Then, there are hundreds of community volunteers from service organizations, businesses, faith groups, fire and police departments providing resources and one-on-one guidance as the children and the families walk through the fair.
The parents, who seem worried and overwhelmed at first, begin to relax as they experience the warm greetings and see their children’s faces light up. The first stop is the backpack table where everyone picks a new backpack to fill. GRACE http://www.gracegrapevine.org brings packs of clothes for every size of child. Those in need of clothing receive school clothes right there. Families wind through the vendors receiving snacks, information and resources. They sign up for school transportation and have eye screenings. The last stop is the school supply table where the Grapevine Chamber Women’s Division http://www.grapevinechamber.org members hand each child a full grade appropriate pack of supplies. Joy, relief and pride in learning seem to be the words of the day.
It takes all of us to make such a big miracle happen every year. This year 1400 students are pre-registered to attend. We need you too. If you can volunteer the morning of the fair Saturday August 11 from 8:30-noon at Grapevine High School, sign up here: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/20f0b4eaeac23a5f49-7thannual. We will train you the morning of the fair to be comfortable in your role. You can donate new backpacks for all ages until August 9 by dropping them off at GCISD Central Office at 3051 Ira E. Woods Avenue, Grapevine, TX 76051, Monday-Thursdays. You can donate money at Grapevine Colleyville Education Foundation, PO Box 292, Grapevine TX 76099 (mark your donation Connect) or donate at Grapevine-Colleyville Education at Facebook.com.
I always started school ready. A quality education made a huge difference in my life. I’m so grateful our community wants that same gift for all children.
Dr. Cindy Ryan is a pastor, wife, mother of three, Mimosa to Keller and Pace, breast cancer survivor and pole climber.