The kids have names. Identities. All of them.
They miss school. They know what’s going on outside, perhaps not the gravity of it all. But they know one thing: school isn’t in session and something is awry in the community.
Bearing name tags that read Allisha, Jorge, Bobby, A’Nais, Holly and Jarvon, each sits at an 8-foot table, piecing together jewelry from beads and glitter, or doing science projects with balloons, or quietly putting together a 250-piece puzzle.
Inside the Ferguson Municipal Public Library, things make much more sense than they do a few blocks away.
Here, at 35 North Florissant, learning is the norm, respect is wagered at each table and West Florissant seems a world away.
Just as it should.
If I’ve learned anything about educators during my many years of education, it’s this: they will not stand for complacency.
School’s called off for another week in the Ferguson-Florissant School District? Fine. Let’s move them to the library, says Mrs. Carrie Pace.
Pace is a fourth year, K-6 Art teacher at Walnut Grove Elementary.
When chaos took over several streets in a town she teachers, she countered with calmness.
And, admittedly, a few tears.
“I went to the library and, maybe, got one sentence out and I was in tears,” Pace said through a wide smile. “And he said, ‘Absolutely.'”
“He” was Scott Bonner, the library administrator, who gracefully handed over a large conference room for use for all children, no matter where they are from, to use and learn in until life – at least for the residents 6-18 years old, their parents and all educators – gets back to some sense of normalcy.
Pace, all 5-foot of her, is a force in the room. She bounces from table to table, helping with projects, answer questions and taking in a steady stream of media that have finally found the story outside of the riotous streets.
Through the district’s Facebook page, Parents For Peace pages and social media tags and right down to teachers holding signs on the streets, Pace was determined to get kids in Ferg-Flor out of their houses and into an educational environment.
The community is richer for people like Pace, Bonner and the kids that are taking the time to do something with their spare time.
And when the school bell rings again, they will be ready to get back to that setting as well.