At last

For students in the Fort Dodge Community School District, summer vacation started Tuesday afternoon after a half day of mostly fun activities.

For the teachers, administrators and support staff, summer vacation may start a few days later, a month from now or, for some, not at all.

Lana Waggoner, a first-grade teacher at Cooper Elementary School, began doing her end-of-year chores last week. Among the many tasks are report cards for her students, end-of-the-year summaries and some housekeeping.

“I have to get most of the stuff off the floor and clean out my desk and closet,” she said.

Going through things can take some time. Obsolete teaching materials, worn out books and, resting in the hall, a colorful stuffed caterpillar four feet long are all headed for the recycling bin.

“I try to start a few days before the children are out,” Waggoner said.

The room cleaning isn’t the most time-consuming part of her end-of-the-year work. Report cards, even though done on her computer, consume about an hour each.

She has 22 students in her room.

“I worked ’til midnight for several nights at home,” she said. “It’s not an eight to four job.”

Thursday she was getting close to finishing up her last few tasks and handing in her building key for the summer, a summer that will include some continuing education classes.

For Jerry Brown, the principal at Butler Elementary School, the last day of school is beyond a big list of “to do.”

“I’ll be here for three more weeks,” he said. “Then I come back on July 24.”

He’ll be kept busy reviewing student report cards and reports, checking faculty out, making sure the rooms are clean, going over class lists for next year’s rooms and making sure that the 1,001 details that need attention get done.

“I’m spending most of my time getting ready for next year,” Brown said. “I make sure the school is ready.”

For the teaching staff at Butler, part of Thursday was professional development day, part of the ongoing continuing education and communication that helps improve teacher performance.

Their session, conducted by Rosie Ellenson, dealt with ways to improve literacy.

Juli Springer, the school nurse at Cooper, faced a bit of work before she could start her summer plans too.

“We have to make sure all our records are up to date,” she said. “All the fourth-graders’ files go to the middle school.”

In addition, there is the normal cleaning of her office.

“It usually takes me three to four days,” she said. “It’s probably not as much work as the teachers have, though.”

Jennifer Kehoe, the district librarian, had to pack up the entire book collection in the library.

“We’re getting new carpet,” she said.

It took her most of Tuesday morning to get all the volumes into dozens of boxes.

“I’m done,” she said Thursday. “I’m ready.”

For Tom Ruge, the head custodian at Fort Dodge Senior High, summer vacation doesn’t happen.

“We kick it into another gear,” he said.

On the list for the summer: cleaning every classroom in the building from top to bottom. He and his staff literally dust the lights, replace burned-out tubes, wash the walls, remove anything that can be moved into the hall and perform an unpleasant task on the chairs.

“We’ll degum them,” he said.

Then the floors get stripped and receive a fresh coat of wax. To do the entire building requires about 45 gallons, he said. Each room requires two to three hours of work. It’s split between seven custodians and two engineers.

Tasks like cleaning the rest rooms and locker rooms continue through the summer. Ruge said there are a variety of basketball, volleyball and swimming camps that use them.

“There’s something going on all the time,” he said.

He misses the noise and energy of the students in the building during the summer, he said. He enjoys being around them.

“We have some good kids here,” he said.

The staff at Cooper had a staff development meeting on Thursday too.

Principal Bruce Hartley went over the past year with his staff, grade by grade; successes, and not so successful events, were talked about and goals set for next year set.

He ended the meeting on a happy note.

“Everybody have a wonderful summer,” he said. “Get your batteries recharged for next year.”