“Jennifer, the class bell rang a minute ago.” The girl in the hall looked around at the voice.
“Yes, Mrs. Foster, I know,” she replied. “I’m sorry.” She opened the door to the classroom, and hurried in. Mrs. Foster smiled. Jennifer wouldn’t be on time if she had a two hour head start. She continued down the hall, and met one of the upper-class teachers at the intersection of the corridors.
“Hello, Henry,” she said. He was carrying a stack of papers, and had a pencil stuck behind one ear. “How are our math students today?” Henry grinned.
“About as usual, Margaret,” he answered. “Confused, most are trying, a few are, well, you know how it is.” The principal nodded as she fell into step beside him.
“Motivation is always the hardest part,” Margaret said. He grinned, and stopped at the door to the teacher’s lounge.
“I’m going to try to get these papers graded before lunch,” Henry said. “Otherwise, I will have to bring them home.” Margret left him to his grades and walked quickly to her office. She sat at her desk and worked until just before the lunchtime bell. She made her way to the cafeteria, and listened to the noise of a school’s worth of children, talking, laughing, and just being children. When the second bell rang, she was in her usual place at the door leading to the playground. Watching the children running out and grabbing balls and other toys, climbing on the jungle gym, and pushing off on the swings always made her smile. The oldest grades were standing in small groups to one side, far too grownup and dignified to use the playground toys, although one group of boys was playing an active game of basketball. She watched from the doorway until the end-of-lunch bell rang. The children returned to the school, the younger grades lined up behind their teachers who led them to their classrooms. The older students filled the halls with the banging of metal locker doors as they pulled out the books and other things they needed for their second set of classes. Within minutes, the halls were quiet again with no one in sight.
Back in her office, Margaret stared out the window toward the backdrop of trees surrounding the school property. She enjoyed working with the children. She’d done it all her life, and now, as principal of the Academy, her responsibilities stretched much farther than just the students and teachers under her. She watched the faint tinge of pink as it became visible behind the trees and stood up. Another school session was almost over. She sighed and walked slowly down the hall to the front door. She pushed it open as the final bell rang, and the children streamed out of the building. Within seconds, students and teachers were gone. Margaret walked back into the school and shut the door.
“And now, we see the Academy of Ste. Jean.” The voice, slightly distorted over the loudspeaker on the bus, crackled a bit. “As you can see, the building has been deserted for many years. It used to be the best school in the area, and competition to get in was very high. But, economics and modernization eventually took their toll. Still, it is a lovely example of the early architecture of the area, and you will see how well it has preserved when we get inside. I should warn you, though, some say the building is haunted by the students and teachers that used to come here.”
The passengers filed off the bus, led by the tour guide. They filed up the walk toward the entrance to the school. Margaret sighed and faded from sight as the door opened and the morning sunlight streamed in.
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