Imagine this: A fire alarm goes off. No one lifts a finger or bats an eye. Teachers continue to teach. Students continue to talk. No one seems to care as we wait for the inevitable announcement that follows almost every fire alarm at Cardozo: "Please disregard the bell." We've all become so used to this; we've become immune to the fire alarm.
The lack of regard for our fire alarm system could prove to be very dangerous. In fact, a few weeks ago, on Dec. 12, someone lit a fire in a trash can in the boys' bathroom. No alarm warned us about the situation, and the school was not evacuated. Maybe the administration thought they didn't need to sound the alarm because no one would have believed that there was a real fire anyway. If the administration had sounded the alarm, how many times would we have to be told, "This one's real" before we reacted?
After all, we have been programmed to ignore the daily false alarms. People's lives are saved everyday by fire alarms. When no one cares about when, how or why these alarms are being pulled, there is a problem.
We all know the reason why most students pull fire alarms. They want to get out of class or possibly, out of school. But they are putting the rest of us at risk. Fire alarms are installed in schools to keep us safe, but with so many false alarms, they don't have much effect on us anymore. The question is: What does the administration think it's proving by teaching us all to ignore fire bells? Do they think this means they're winning the battle of wills with the alarm pullers?
The administration needs to take this problem more seriously. They need to come up with a plan to monitor the fire alarms around the school more closely. Maybe they could use cameras to catch "the pullers" in the act. Students who pull the alarm as a prank should get a proper punishment. By doing so, the administration would send a message that they won't tolerate this kind of misbehavior. Once the situation is under control, students and staff will also need to be retrained to take fire alarms seriously. School-wide fire drills, including evacuation of all classrooms, should be scheduled periodically.
When we can find a solution for these false alarms, we will all finally know that when the fire bell rings we are actually in danger, and it is not just a prank that will be disregarded.
They came to relive a time when life was good and uncomplicated. They came to recapture a spirit that, like an embryo, has grown over the past 10, 20, 30, 40 years. They came to see old friends and old rivals of a time not long ago. Bodies, once chiseled in stone or proudly flashing an hour-glass figure, now shows the wear and tear of age and children, splattered with a touch of gray and a wrinkle here or there. They came because they had to. They came to honor him. They came for former head football coach and mentor James Y. Tillerson.
On Friday night (October 10, 2008) the Roosevelt administration, faculty, student body, alumni and community honored former coach Tillerson by dedicating and renaming the Roosevelt's football stadium the James Y. Tillerson stadium. It was a very emotional ceremony, which preceded the Roosevelt-Coolidge Clash of the Titans football game. As coach Tillerson, who once was a giant of a man in stature, importance and size, was carried out to the center of the football field in a wheel chair, his body slumped over and crippled by Parkinson's disease, tears filled the eyes of family members, close friends, former players and past students. He was being honored for his courageous, dedication, and never-ending desire to help children and getting them to make the right choices.
Coach Tillerson has come a long way since his journey through Roosevelt, from experiencing different faces, attitudes, and emotional scenarios each and every year for many years. He coached Roosevelt for 24 years and won seven west division championships, three Interhigh (now known as the DCIAA) championships, and one city championship (he won the last actual city championship ever played in DC - beating St. John's 41-7). More importantly, he touched so many lives in a positive way. To many, this ceremony was more than just an award presentation for "some coach", but an award presentation to a mentor, a father figure, a man who demanded respect and demanded that children have respect for themselves and to respect their fellow man.
"He's a living legend," stated Andre Oates, a member of Roosevelt's class of 1987. "He helped so many people out. He sacrificed his time and his family's time so he could help us so attending this ceremony was the least I could do." "He was like a surrogate father to me, but also to other young men in this school and in this community," stated a reflective Derrick Posey, Roosevelt class of 1975. "He took us under his wing, he kept us out of trouble, he gave us an outlet, and he kept us on the right path. If it wasn't for him, I probably would not be here today." "He was my mentor," stated an elated Jay Adams, Roosevelt class of 1979. "He did a lot for me. Through his teachings I was able to grow as a person and his strong regiment and discipline helped me through college and my USFL experience. I teach the same principles he taught me to my son and the team I now coach." "Coach Tillerson was a mentor to the guys and kept us women in check," exclaimed Lydia Desborces, Roosevelt class of 1973. "He let us know that we were young ladies and they were young men and we should respect each other. "I haven't been back here in 25 years," Gwendolyn Vinson, class of 1983, stated. "I came out tonight because they were dedicating the stadium to him. I had to be here."
The setting was a football game in a brand new stadium featuring arch rivals. The air was filled with the smell of hot dogs and chicken, and the sounds of hip hop and rhythm and blues blaring over the public address system. The atmosphere was festive and the football was fierce. Coach Tillerson wouldn't have it any other way.
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