It is a great day to be in the principal's office at Eagle Peak Middle School. On my desk, I can see several student council campaign posters to approve. One 6th-grade student's poster highlights his campaign for longer breaks, "funner" PE activities, new picnic tables, and having Blue Heat Chili Pepper Takis available for purchase in the vending machines. If I were a student, he would have my vote.
I also have a stack of "outstanding achievement" certificates on my desk to sign for an awards assembly today. On top of the stack is an award for a student who has been in my office a few times for not making the best choices. I will feel tremendous pride recognizing that student later in the day in front of his peers for outstanding achievement in the classroom.
A student with disabilities walks by my office door with her aide to head to the nurse's office. I wave to her, and she waves back.
My office window is cracked, and I can hear the advanced band playing the national anthem, "Iron Man" by Black Sabbath, "Bad Guy" by Billie Eilish, and the "Baby Shark" song. The band is in final rehearsals for their pep band performance at an upcoming volleyball game, and they sound on key and prepared. The "Baby Shark" song will inevitably be playing in my head for the rest of the day.
Students from the digital media class are nearby with professional-grade cameras working on "bird's eye view" and "worm's eye view" projects. Year after year, these students develop into some of the best middle school photographic artists in the nation.
The rays and light of the October sun are softer now and tranquilly filter into my office. Something is mesmerizing and magical about the light out in Redwood Valley this time of year as the sun hangs lower on the horizon. Across the street in the vineyard, the thinning grapevine leaves shimmer with bright amber and orange hues.
My new school counselor, Guadalupe Ibanez, passes by outside, talking with a student. Guadalupe and her family came to the United States in 2011. She learned English in Healdsburg schools, graduated with her bachelor's degree from Sacramento State, and completed her master's degree and counseling credential this past spring. She's awesome.
Sometimes the principal's office can be a place where hard conversations happen. The end goal of these conversations is always to get a student back on track and back in the classroom. So far today, it has been quiet in my office.
The bell rings for upper-grade break time. It's time to head out to the quad and talk with the kids.
2022-23 is Mr. Stearns' 15th year as principal of Eagle Peak Middle School.