Business As Usual at Wade Thomas

Posted by Ross Valley School District on 8/26/2019 1:00:00 PM

Wade Thomas Elementary School


The Wade Thomas motto is: Respectful, Safe, Kind, Responsible.  What better time to see how that’s working out than lunch recess?


If you arrive at 11:15, the campus may well be very quiet.  Head to the office to sign in and get your visitor sticker.  On the door is written: 


Come in, we’re


(and awesome)


Inside it’s cool and orderly.  You can take a moment to chat with Marlana, who always knows something interesting.  Principal Faulkner will be somewhere close by.  Both of them seem to enjoy smiling. 


Outside on the upper playground (where the younger students play) just before the bell, there are so many inviting places to sit it may take a moment to find your favorite.  A big rolling basket of balls is waiting for the students, as is Coach Lee.  Two laughing second-graders, one boy and one girl, are synchronized swinging in matching green shorts and a small cluster of boys are rolling hula hoops to track their trajectories.


Then, as if choreographed, the lunch bell rings (do, sol, mi, do), classroom doors swing open, Coach Lee pulls on his bright yellow vest, and all at once the playground is full of bouncing, skittering, rope-jumping, giggling, and climbing.  (Interestingly, the breezeway remains a walking-only zone.)


Older students wearing striped jerseys referee a kickball game (SAFE!!) as a mom walks by with her kindergartener.  “So you were dancing in the park?”  “Yes,” he says, “We danced and danced,” and he twirls to make his point.  His tee shirt says “Just Smile” ... so you do. 


Along the breezeway (walk, please), through the clusters of picnic tables, down a few steps, and past the 4th and 5th grade classrooms, is the lower playground where the upper grades play.  You pass signs and posters with messages like “Do the right thing even when no one is watching” and “When I practice I see great results”.  Here the preference seems to be for gaga, soccer, four square, and serious conversation.  The hula hooping is faster and more specialized and the footwork on the soccer field is impressive.  Several students are huddled over a notebook, working on something complicated under a shady tree, nodding emphatically and taking notes


There are Children For Change tee shirts everywhere, one that says "Stand for the Silent,"  and another that simply reads "ROCK IT."  The adults are wearing bright yellow vests here as well.  A passing student explains when you ask that this is so everyone can easily identify the “safe people” who will help you no matter what if you ever need them.  “We pretty much never do though,” he assures you.


And sure enough, recess flies by without a single request for adult intervention.


When the bell rings again (do, sol, mi, do), everyone stops and sits down right where they are.  Conversations are wrapped up and pencils set down, balls stop bouncing, and 200 students take a deep breath to collect their thoughts. After a moment of quiet settling, Coach Lee says, “Okay!  Have a great rest of your day!” and 200 students get up and walk to their afternoon classes.


Only as you are sitting, alone again, collecting your own thoughts before heading off to your afternoon, does it occur to you how seemingly effortless this ordinary lunchtime has been.  Hundreds of people, young and old, have just spent an hour eating, playing, and working safely, respectfully, kindly, and responsibly just as a matter of course, even when (they thought) no one was watching.