Letter to the Editor

MHAFB School Liaison Officer “Nix” reflects on deserted schools

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Editor’s Note: Anyone who has had the pleasure of meeting Allen Niksich or seeing him in action knows that, not only, is he readily available to military families and students, but he is an amazing advocate for all children, teachers and staff of all of our community schools. On March 17th he posted the following message to both his personal and his office Facebook pages. It had me in tears reading it and obviously did for many others as well because both the newspaper and “Nix” were reached out to share this in our paper. I believe his words conveyed what so many of us are feeling right now. Be forewarned, tissues are recommended.

The following is his poignant post:

Very depressing day today. I am not ashamed to say I shed a few tears. I saw empty playgrounds and classrooms. I Visited all 8 schools in the district, watching parents and children empty their desks and lockers and being issued their chrome-books that will help provide the minimal education opportunities over the next 2 weeks to 2 months. I saw parents’ looks of concern and concentration as teachers instructed those parents on lap top computers. I saw high school seniors console one another as they know they won’t play their final year of sports, act in the play, or compete at state for debate and speech. I saw principals and staff members greet parents and students at the entrance to school, somehow knowing every kid’s name, and directing them to their classrooms for briefings and issuing them computers. I saw a principal and front office throw money on the desk for a family who came out of the office in tears because their food stamps were being cut in half. I saw tears in teacher’s eyes as they spoke to each individual student, telling them they ‘care’ about them and to work hard from home. I saw custodians and lunchroom workers doing what they do every day, deep cleaning and wondering when they will see those little heathens they secretly love again! I saw teachers consoling one another and I knew they were genuine in their comments to me that they hate seeing the kids walk out the door. I saw librarians giving kids books to read while they are away from the school buildings and assuring them they would still be doing reading time over the computers in their homes, too. I saw kids putting on brave faces, joking about school being out, yet knowing they were confused and concerned, putting on that brave face because they knew their parents were worried. I saw other kids who were outwardly mad about not coming to school, mad about not seeing their friends, not seeing their teachers. I saw teachers struggling, but trying to make today fun for the kids on St. Patrick’s Day, trying to lighten the mood for everyone. I saw hugs between teachers and parents, teachers and students, and parents with other parents…social distancing be damned. I saw principals buying lunch for all their staff today. I saw a lot of people discussing what more can we do to help families as we know internet access is shaky in some households, if not non-existent. I heard a lot of people discussing how we can make sure children are fed through this separation of kids and school. While their education is important, having nourishment in order to learn is even more important than the subject of education. I watched my School MFLC’s gather today to discuss how they could continue to make a difference with the children of deployed members and others they help on a daily basis. I saw students making sure they had their friends’ phone numbers so they could keep in touch and help one another over skype with their homework. Then, as I finished my visits, I dreaded driving to my office, knowing that the 80 plus little boogers at the Child Development Center would not be there or at the Youth Center. When I got to my office, my building was locked and the lights were out. No munchkins playing and learning in our building and I never dreamed that would ever happen and I was missing them within seconds of walking into the office. I am typing this in my office with just one other person in my building, where there should be over 100 big and little people. Today was sad, terrible really. But I saw hope, positivity, and genuine concern from the people we work with every day, parents, school teachers and staffs, and our district office. The one thing that was scarce, one of the main reasons I wanted to visit each school, the biggest thing I dreaded but knew I needed to be there for…didn’t happen! There were very few complaints; many concerns but not complaints or harsh words. The community knows this isn’t something to blame on a school or a school district, or the state. It was a time of coming together and being part of the solution, even though we don’t know what the outcome will truly be. Whether this lasts 2 weeks or 6 months, we are a part of history. Maybe a stupid comparison, but today I felt a lot like I did on 9/11! Like that terrible time, with a sense of everyone doing what they can, offering up their resources, neighbors looking out for one another, and demonstrating ‘service before self,’ we can get back to living our best lives…but for now the plan is TIME and DISTANCE…and the hope that goodness continues to spread throughout our community as we look out for one another. We can do this!