School is over. I walked down at lunch on the last day to share in the traditional community potluck, and got to see everyone enjoying their last hurrah for the year.
A few weeks before, however, the kids had an All-School Sleepover. This doesn’t happen every year; the kids have to lobby for and organize it, and they have to do it with enough time to bring a vote to the community meeting (all schedule changes are voted on by the community) to make the day after the sleepover a non-school day. The staff flatly refuse to stay at school for 32 hours in a row, which seems entirely reasonable to every adult member of the community.
I signed up for the early shift on the day after the sleepover, which meant that I dropped the kids off the previous evening and then showed up around 5:30 to see how things had gone. I discovered that both of our boys had gone to sleep at a decent time (around midnight), unlike some of the other young kids who were still going strong. Only a small handful of the students made it all night, though; most had succumbed at some point, and lay huddled in clusters around the building. Usually they had managed some kind of blanket or sleeping bag; only occasionally were they sprawled in a chair.
The adults who’d been on duty had obviously not slept, and I found them talking quietly to each other, with long pauses, in the manner of thoroughly exhausted people everywhere. For almost two hours very little occurred, with the exception of an occasional die-hard child suddenly becoming still and quiet on the floor, as though a switch had been flicked. Then, as we approached breakfast-time, the building began to groan quietly to life. More volunteers arrived to begin cooking; students staggered into the Great Hall, bleary and disoriented.
By the time I left breakfast was in full swing. Both my boys were up, though they looked a bit the worse for wear, and other students had begun to gather their things and trickle home. Gathering reports afterwards, I understand that the sleepover was generally considered to be a fantastic success.