Saturday, August 20, 2016

The First Few Days

August 15, 2016.  The first day of school.
The staff arrived in the early morning to prepare the food for the community breakfast the school puts on every year.  We also had to set up the gym where the opening ceremony would take place.  Naturally, I arrived in my formal attire, wearing a dark collared shirt, a sealskin tie, black dress pants, and black dress shoes.  I was ready to teach.

The Home Ec room was alive with activity.  Teachers were preparing bowls of freshly cut fruits and trays of grilled cheese sandwiches.  I helped several teachers set up the gym with tables and chairs.  The gym had been repainted and coloured lines had been added to the floor.  The repainting of the school over the summer gave me the feeling of a new beginning.  I wondered if others felt the same way.  The high school students came down to the gym to help the teachers prepare plates of food.  We prepared close to three hundred plates before 9:30am.  We would also be serving yogurt, juice, coffee, and tea.

The gym was full of students, teachers, parents, and community members.  The emcees were the principal and Audrey, the school's sewing teacher.  The staff were called up to the front to introduce themselves and say what subjects they would be teaching.  I was one of the first.  An elder then blessed the food and the staff began handing out the plates of food to everyone.  We started from the front of the gym and worked our way to the back.  The plates quickly disappeared into the audience and after some time, most of the food was consumed.  Many people came up for seconds.  The breakfast lasted until morning recess.  We made sure the gym was cleaned up before the bell rang.

I would be teaching three classes this semester: Grades 10 & 11 Social Studies and Grade 10 Percussion.  Grade 10 Social Studies was the largest class and my drum class would be the smallest.  This semester I would be teaching an all-girl drumline.  This arrangement wasn't planned; it just happened.  This was my first time teaching percussion to just girls.  Last semester, my guitarists were all girls. 
I spent most of the first week introducing myself, going over the course outlines, and outlining the rules of the classroom.  I began teaching near the end of the week.  My Grade 10 Socials students began their study of the Canadian Residential School System.  My Grade 11s began their semester learning about globalization.  And my drummers learned stick grips, proper posture, how to hit the drum pads, and some basic rudiments.

A large private yacht anchored in Arctic Bay for several days.  Using my binoculars, the flag on the stern looked like it was from Ontario.  Unfortunately, I didn't meet any of the crew members to confirm my assumption.  They blew the boat's horn before sailing out of the bay.

A large cruise ship called the Ocean Endeavour sailed into Arctic Bay on August 17th.  A small fleet of zodiac boats, full of curious & excited tourists, came ashore.  I thought the tourists would come ashore wearing yellow jackets like they did two years ago but that wasn't the case.  It was still easy to spot them, walking around, snapping photos of everything & everyone.  Some even took pictures of Inuit women carrying babies in their amautis.  The tourists only stayed for the day.  The zodiac boats brought them back to the ship and Ocean Endeavour left that night.

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