Perspectives: 10/365

Issues do not exist by themselves
They are manifested
From the depths of egotistical entreaties,
From people.

The issues of Taylorville’s identity
Rested less with the economy,
The political tumult of the United States,
Or the smell of the mushrooms and
More from the aches
Caused by the need to control,
The want to be someone, or
Insecurities buoyed by pontoons of doubt.

Once brought into the open,
Issues must be dealt with,
But whose hubris has the answers?
Someone. No, everyone and no one.

Perspectives: 9/365

Polarized perspectives lead to divided loyalties.
In the case of the of small towns
The schools are there for everyone
Although, everything is not there to all.

The pettiness,
The disinterest,
The lost opportunities
Existing in larger settings, affect schools just the same.

Perhaps it is human nature to align with a cause,
To join the things most interesting to us.
Maybe the propensity of people to ridicule
Comes with our tendency to dismiss that not like us.

And what a shame that is.

For the nation…
For small towns…
For schools…

Perspectives: 7/365

Problems arise when the cliques compete.
Bands and sports somehow have a natural rivalry.
Crazy, given that they represent the same school.

When sports are huge and teams are winning
The band becomes an afterthought,
When sports are small, the band seizes the moment.

The effect of the up and down
Makes it hard for the community,
Sports being the high profile player in the equation.

It’s easier to support sports
Identifying with the winning and losing
Is easier than appreciating the intricacies of music.

So when the teams are down
And the boo birds settle down
Support goes where the sounds seem sweeter.

Music, the domain of so many non-athletes
Takes over the top spot,
Leaving sports to mull the depths of a losing culture.

Jealousy ensues, petty differences spring up
And the small town mentality
Gets divided in the inability to figure out who it is.

Perspectives: 8/365

The relationship of a community
To its schools
Is as cliquey as the groups of students
In the schools.

Parents follow their children
Dropping support in the forms
Of time, money, and presence
At whatever the events are.

For a few, it is the stage,
For the majority,
It’s music and sports,
Distant cousins at best.

Truth is, there is only a real difference,
Band kids practice their craft for hours,
Sports kids practice their craft for hours,
Both sets of parents wait around for hours.

But too many band kids
See athletes as low brow jocks who know nothing but brawn,
While too many sports kids
See the band as a bunch of geeks toting expensive instruments.

Parents of either get lost in the stereotypes
Furthering the angst,
Establishing lines of competition
Played out in the arena of social networking.

The rivalry is probably as old as sports and music,
Jealousy and arrogance ruling both sides of the fight,
It’s too bad really,
For communities could be more if they just get along.

Perspectives: 6/365

As the machine keeps going
What is there to look forward to?
The first day of school?
Puberty?
Graduation?
College?
Jobs?
Marriage?
Grandkids?
Death?

Maybe all of those,
But who really can live
Only looking towards the milestones of life.
They are bumps on life’s continuum
That are nothing more the tally marks
On prison walls.

What then?
Small town identities…
Schools…
Of what,
For what,
Whosie what.

Schools offer sanctuaries
For souls needing identities.
Far beyond the academics
Are the social structures
Where kids find like minds
Testing the norms of friendships,
Creating the balance between group identities and stereotypes
Battling the war of tolerance and tribal acceptance,
Schools bring disparate people together
Letting them get to know that we are not so different
If only we see acceptance of our differences and
The need to learn how differences encourage growth,
That we are not some Internet logarithm,
Predictable, patterned, and programmable.

Schools are temples for learning.
Learning is necessary for growth.
Growth brings people together.

Small town schools are more than academic factories.
They are places where clubs allow for greater exposure
To stuff that might be more interesting
Than the latest standardized test
Or article proclaiming the rigorous machinations of education.
They are places were extracurricular activities like band and sports
Promote fellowship through accomplishments
Of a different sort than an A+ and GPAs can ever understand.

Schools are not factories or machines.
They are places with a heart,
If only the richness of the non-book stuff
Is viewed with a proper perspective.

Perspectives: 5/365

The kids grow older together,
The adults grow old together,
The teachers get older,
Faculties turn over,
And the whole machine keeps going.

However, the reputations stay the same,
A kid in kindergarten might act a way,
They could be seen that way throughout their school-aged years,
Parents might have attitudes about schools,
Positive, negative, demanding, or laissez-faire
Then they talk to other parents
And the mill starts churning
Causing a new perception about the schools, the teachers, the climate of learning,
Sometimes positive, sometimes negative, sometimes demanding or hands off
Teachers might think a way
Limiting the potential of education
Which is rich in opportunity if not bound by red tape
Or the unruly perceptions heaped upon schools.
Often teachers get stuck between survival and nobleness
Never really able to act out the dream of education
Being a universal value
Accepted for its purposefulness and practicality.

The kids grow older together,
The adults grow old together,
The teachers get older,
Faculties turn over,
And the whole machine keeps going.

Perspectives: 4/365

Yet no one ever really gets mad at the mushrooms,
They kind of just exist.
There is the steam rising from the blockhouses
Cooking the soil and killing the bacteria
That will cause blotch to ravage the fungus,
There is the steam rising from the soil
That stinks to high heaven,
And there are the trucks that drag mud all over the place,
But the mushrooms are sacred,
They are the life of this little town,
For without the shiitakes, the portobellos, and the other varieties being developed
People would have no reason to be in Taylorville.

Except for the schools,
The venerable Taylor High School with it’s connections to the one-percenters,
The middle school, a palace built in the farthest regions of the district,
And three elementary schools, teaching the same ages,
But very different in their reputations and demographics.
The schools of Taylorville bring everyone together,
For better or worse,
As kids grow up with the same kids
So parents see the same parents
They get to know each other,
Sometimes as friends, other times just through sight recognition,
Their grayness and wrinkles sprouting just as the mushrooms in the hot soil.

Perspectives: 3/365

Small towns like Taylorville
Often come from humble beginnings,
Where the son of colonial immigrants
Would strike out on his own and was be so awed by the land
That he had to make his run at life’s fortune there.

Through the hardest of winters and
The brightest of summers,
The great man would endure, persevere, and succeed
In building a town
Where others, too, would want to live.

In Taylorville, they came together,
Mostly because the roads to Philadelphia and Wilmington passed through, but
In the myths because of the leadership of Simon Taylor,
A son of colonial immigrants
Who was mostly awed by the strategic location of the undeveloped land.

He opened a tavern, over time
Other small businesses cropped up,
Someone grew roses for a time, making for the first steady industry,
Then mushrooms became the cash crop
And to this day, the whole town is absorbed by the soil’s smell,
Colloquially, known as the “smell of money.”

The mushrooms of Taylorville allowed for the grocery stores,
The banks, the discounted box stores, and the art galleries.
Downtown sported three barbershops, although one was hidden in an alley.
Wal-Mart took over a historic farm
With the same zeal of Simon Taylor some two-hundred and fifty years before.

Despite all of the restaurants that had come and gone,
All of the specialty stores that claimed parking was the solution
To their lack of business,
It was the mushrooms and the schools
That kept Taylorville on the map.

Fungus and education
Strange bedfellows at first glance,
But both received a hate and love relationship with the community.
Many hated the stench, but loved the lower property taxes,
Many hated the schools, but loved the steps leading into the high school.