The most common and cheapest types of artificial turf are manufactured from long sheets of UV resistant plastic that are cut into grass-like ribbons and then woven into a mat. This explains why turf burns and cuts are so commonplace with most artificial surfaces. The grass is ‘sharp’ like paper.
The latest technology avoids this problem by manufacturing individual strands of grass that have a diamond or hex-like shape, significantly reducing abrasions and eliminating cuts. In the early spring of 2018, I travelled to Florida to look at artificial turf fields using this technology. There being no examples in Canada, I wanted to see schools that had a variety of new and weathered fields.
You may remember that in February of 2018 there was a young gunman who shot and killed 17 teachers and students, and injured another 17 more, at the Stoneman Douglas High School. Touring Florida high schools in March showed me how all Floridians were feeling the emotional wounds of that tragedy. Police cruisers were stationed at every school entrance. Officers carrying assault rifles greeted me. My photograph was taken as was my Canadian ID. I passed through a metal detector as I entered the grounds.
When there are examples of violence in schools, as there was this week in Uvalde, Texas, everyone’s sense of security is rocked. The world tilts on its axis, and the ground shifts. Like all schools in Canada and the USA, we have our external and internal emergency public address systems. We have our emergency lockdown drills. The local police have school maps and blueprints and response plans. Like fire drills and fire alarms, these preparations are a part of every student and teacher’s school experience.
I had a Zoom call with a teacher in Washington this morning. A much-needed long weekend lies ahead for them. It has been a long and tearful week. His school is 1,700 miles away from Uvalde, but they are on high alert, and their school counselors are holding support sessions for students and staff.
In absolute contrast, we have enjoyed the most sensational week. Unmasked and happy and safe, we have reveled in a joyous Cultural Fair and a celebratory Athletics Awards ceremony. We have laughed at Mr. Faucher and Mr. Verryn-Stuart’s dad jokes and marveled at the breadth of artistic talent in song and dance at our School.
We are so lucky at KES. I hope we never take this for granted.