Hay Fever?

Lent – April

“Do you have a cold?”

“No. It’s just allergies.”

Hay fever in the desert? Or is it spring fever? Or is it allergies?

As early as the 1800s, Arizona became known for its therapeutic powers over those suffering from a range of maladies including tuberculosis, asthma, arthritis, and allergies. But as cities in this Southwestern desert grew, human transplants also brought with them non-native trees, plants, and grasses. Today, the droves of people who continue to migrate across the Mississippi do not necessarily seek cures for health conditions. Instead, they seek communities where the weather is perpetually dosed in sunlight, where opportunity prevails, and where the cost of living remains lower than in other areas of our country.

In the late 1980s, I remember the county in which I live declaring war on pollen by banning future plantings of olive trees – trees I learned were first imported to California by Franciscan missionaries in the late 1700s. By the way, my research shows me that some of these hearty fruity-bearing trees live an average of 500 years…and some even as long as 2,000 years! The pollen continues to fly!

When I was younger, my Dad always had a handkerchief ready to stem his sneezes triggered by everything from ragweed to milkweed. He called that “hay fever,” even though I recall him suffering the same seasonal “colds” in March and April too. When our family subsequently moved from Maryland to Arizona, hay fever followed us. At one point or another, each of our family members has, without a doubt, suffered from these inherited allergies. Manifestations have evolved to include distracted behavior, staring at nothing, forgetting to meet deadlines, and feeling lightheaded when exposed to the fragrant intensity of orange trees blossoming outside open windows.

This seasonal disease does not discriminate by age. Much like my own family, I have observed that high school students tend to cough and sneeze through almost the entire second semester. Add to this their own brand of symptoms to include springtime romances, late-afternoon lethargy, and seriously stuffed noses. The only diagnosis – Spring Fever.

Principal’s Ponderings – Honey Bees and Allergies

Honey bees are busy doing what honey bees do as they drone in and among the orange trees blossoming on our campus. Ah-choo…it smells so (sniffle, sniffle) good!

Ah, it is spring in the desert and the blooming citrus is only one sign of the season that has emerged almost overnight as April makes its debut in the desert. A short walk around the school reveals dashes of color evidenced by the translucent buttery daffodils and orange-tipped tulips that students planted in October and that now fill a planter in front of the Administration Building. Yellow rose-like clusters defy gravity on the bushes crawling up a pillar leading into the courtyard. Students and faculty alike grab tissues and stifle their sneezes even as they lean in to breath the sweet perfume of the flowers surrounding them.

These signs of spring – from bursting buds to full-bloom allergies – seem to parallel the symptoms our students are showing too. We are witnessing the full spectrum of student response to academics. On one hand, creativity abounds in video presentations of Stem and Sustainability “prototype inventions,” and dialogues from British Literature that have students walking through Dante’s circles of the Underworld. On the other hand, the technology coordinator recently joked, “…the amount of brain stoppage is staggering.” She noted a recent assignment she handed off to five groups in her computer class. Of those groups, only two met the minimal requirements of a simple rubric.

April’s progress reports signal the beginning of the final six weeks or so of the school year. Fortunately, this reality check of grades tends to spur most students into positive action to either maintain or buckle down through the last days as they turn in missing assignments, study more intentionally for tests, and show up more often than not for tutorials. Athletes juggle their time along with their baseball bats and volleyballs to meet the demands of their hectic schedules. Thespians memorize lines and choreographed steps as they prepare for the upcoming musical while completing homework between practices. Even the faculty struggle to meet curriculum goals while also keeping up with devising lessons that engage weary learners!

Our calendars are full. Sports continue for the next several weeks, AP exams are just around the corner, as is Easter, the Sports Banquet, Prom, Senior Breakfast, the Awards Ceremony, Graduation, and final exams. Just like the bees as they pollinate the orange trees, gathering nectar along the way to make their honey, we too, continue to make the best use of our own resources in order to ultimately bear the fruit of this school year’s labors.

William Shakespeare said it best when he stated that “April hath put a spirit of youth in everything.”Pass the Kleenex please!

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