Monday, August 22, 2011

Lucy's crazy school year

The snow shutting schools last week, I got to thinking over Lucy's school year so far.
Right from the beginning, things were a bit messy. Her school was on three floors above shops and a food court in the central city. The boxing day quake, that was centred very close to the central city, damaged the stairwell that is in the building attached to their school. This meant they had to build a temporary fire escape for the top two floors in order for them to use them. Lucy's home base (class) meets on the second floor, so plans were made to house them on the bottom floor until the right people had signed off the fire escape. I can't remember these days too clearly. The kids went swimming at Centennial pool and then on the Friday the whole school met in the gardens for the day. It was the first week of February. The next week school got underway properly, with everyone in the proper places and the fire drill using the new scaffold fire escape completed.
Then only a few weeks later it was Tuesday February 22nd. The rest of that week we were in Nelson, no school at all for Lucy. The following week she went to Tahunanui School in Nelson. By the end of the week we had power and water at home and we had the kids bought back by some wonderful friends. I thought if they stayed away any longer, they may have never wanted to return.
The following week we did home schooling with a meeting on the Wednesday at the new, temporary location at Halswell Residential. This was a welcome surprise for us as talk up until that week had been of a temporary location in the northwest part of the city.
The next week was more homeschooling while the staff worked quickly to set up rooms with the minimal resources they had (all the school's resources were still in town). Thursday 17th March, (four weeks after Feb 22), Lucy was back with her classmates that were still in Christchurch.
In the second term, they were moving to a new, more permanent, temporary site. She had a day off on May 23rd while again the staff set up a new school. This time at least they had most of their stuff from out of the city and the kids got their bags back. I remember at a parent's meeting about the new temporary school, someone asked about the safety of the prefabs in a large aftershock. I remember thinking, we'd had two, what were the chances of another large one? This was before June.
A few weeks later there was another day off on June 8th to allow all the staff to go in and get out more of their resources. A couple of weeks ago I saw the photos Lucy's learning advisor (teacher) took on this trip. The building was in relatively good shape but it was a mess. Bookcases, the kids had played next to, were lying on the ground and everything had been flung across the floor. The stairwell and lift shaft entrance was now badly damaged. There were holes in the walls and she had a photo of a gap between the school building and this stairwell. We used to walk in through this entrance every day.
Then came the June 13 quakes and school was shut for another two days while buildings were checked and signed off.
This term it has not been quakes but snow, with the three days off last week.
On Friday morning when I dropped Lucy off she said. "I'm scared Mummy we haven't felt an aftershock for ages." At six she may have missed a lot of school this year, but she knows the patterns of Christchurch aftershocks and if we haven't a decent one in awhile, it must be coming soon.
The aftershocks are back. Last week wasn't the new quiet normal, it was abnormal according to the experts. Since Saturday there have been three fairly sizable shakes (in the fours on the richter scale). The one on Saturday night was horrible. It kept building and I was watching the little electronic weather station on top of the television wobble. I could feel the fingers of dread start creeping into the pit of my stomach and then it stopped. I could relax. I could push back all those feelings that come from September, February and June. I went to check on the kids and tell Lucy she didn't need to be scared anymore her aftershock had arrived.

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5 Favourite Sights Seen

  • 1996 Watching tropical lightning turn night to day, outside a little wooden church in a small village in Sabah.
  • 2004 Flying down the Rainbow Valley at 8000ft in a cessna on a clear blue day.
  • 2003 Seeing and hearing Michael Schmacher rolling out of the pit garage in his Ferrari in Hungary.
  • 2009 Chancing upon 100 or more dolphins just off the Kaikoura Coast swimming around, jumping out of the water, doing somersaults and generally having fun.
  • 2006 Finding a pool at the bottom of a waterfall in the bush at Kaikoura that was full of playing baby seals.