The innocent laughter of children wafted out of the classrooms. Filtered through the swaying aspen leaves, sunlight danced across the elementary school hallway. The little hand turkeys pinned on the wall were decorated with scribbles of bright crayon. Earth Day posters hung with lopsided letters in “bubblegum-scented” Mr. Sketch markers. Like a trail of ducklings, a class of bright-eyed children obediently followed their teacher. Shifting my weight, I put my hand on my hip, tired after conferencing. However, I still smile wearily at each of the children. This place was almost like a sanctuary. Almost.
An ear-splitting bang came from one of the classrooms. Panicked shrieks followed. I flung open the classroom door. Children sprawled under chairs and desks. Something lay on its side awkwardly, the door bent open, shredded paper strewn across the floor. The children murmured to each other, pointing to open cubbies and crevices. “Sorry about the noise, Ms. Davis. The guinea pig’s cage fell over against the heater,” the teacher explained. “It escaped, but don’t worry, we’ll find it.” She scurried back to help the children.