(March 1976 issue of the Beachy Banner)

To a casual observer, the school yard looks plain and unadorned, almost barren. What is it but a squared off area of asphalt, enclosed by a chain link fence? It appears sparsely decorated with several basketball courts, monkey bars and a sandbox.

This is the school yard, from the outside looking in. But should you be invited within that charmed magic circle of childhood, you would discover that the school yard is a place of enchantment, here sometimes solemn little boys and studious little girls are magically transformed into running, skipping, laughing pixies and elves.

I take half of the class (The Late Birds) to the lavatories for a short recess, while the other children (The Early Birds) prepare to go home. The children use the bathroom, wash their hands (presumably) and get a shot of water from the drinking fountain in about thirty seconds flat. They have it down to a science, this business of getting necessities out of the way.

A breath of warm air scatters autumn leaves across the yard, sometimes making little whirlwinds. The children hope and skip and tug at my arms.

“Let’s play ‘Uncle Sam’” they chorus. They always want to play “Uncle Sam”. No one ever tires of it.

A few build sand castles. Several others climb the bars. One or two girls, possibly daydreaming of being famous acrobats for Ringling Brothers someday, turn awkward somersaults on the bars. One of the girls gets stuck at the top of the bar and has to be lifted down. Actually, I think, she is a princess in disguise, who was waiting to be rescued.

One curly-haired boy, always so quiet and shy in the classroom, becomes a wild, lumbering monster who growls fiercely. The girls obligingly feign terror and run, shrieking.

Another little girl, an unobtrusive shadow in the classroom, is a whiz at hopscotch. Her feet fairly fly through the paces and watching her, something tugs at my heartstrings.

Their faces are rosy and gay and peals of laughter echo through the yard, until the bell rings. It is time for them to get in line to return to their classroom.

I glance over my shoulder when I reach the door. I smile at the children and they smile at me. And you thought it was only a school yard!


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