Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, Ph.D.

I study people, technology, and the worlds they make

Peninsula picnic

This evening at Peninsula we had a picnic to welcome new families to the school. I stopped at the store and picked up a couple things, and packed up the Trader Joe’s insulated bag (which does a great job of keeping things cold, and has the added virtue of a zipper that keeps out the yellowjackets).

We got there a bit early, but soon enough there were plenty of other families. Interestingly, a number of the new families had sent their kids to summer school at Peninsula, to get them used to the place. (I think summer school is probably more significant a recruiting tool and socialization system than we realize.)

Both my kids are now old enough to cut loose once they’re on campus, which is nice for all of us. They now get to play on their own, without having parents get in their way; and parents get to talk to other parents.

My son has now become an expert at a game they play called ga-ga. It’s played in an irregular court that was probably built for some very different purpose decades ago, but now has turned into a ball court.

via flickr

The kids occasionally try to explain the rules, but I find it all a bit difficult to follow. However, I’ve observed it enough to have concluded that it’s emblematic of Peninsula: there aren’t so much rules as guidelines (to quote Captain Barbosa in Pirates of the Caribbean), the players constantly negotiate and update the rules, no one is ever out of the game for very long, and success seems defined by how long you can rally without getting someone out or losing the ball.

My son’s class has several new kids, and the parents seem quite nice. (The kids do too.) My daughter, on the other hand, has no new kids: it’s entirely a class of hardened Peninsula veterans, all of whom have been at the school for four or five years.

via flickr

It’s hard to fathom that my daughter is starting her sixth year at Peninsula. Five years of driving or biking her to school, dealing with Peninsula dust on the clothes and cars, making lunch (or, for the past two years, lunches) the evening before…

via flickr

Saturday is work day, when the parents come and help get the classrooms ready. School itself doesn’t get started until the middle of the next week. My daughter is not at all pleased with the couple extra vacation weeks: the other day, as she and her grandmother were out shopping, my daughter observed, “I must the only kid in the universe who’s school isn’t going on.”

[To the tune of The Rolling Stones, “Gimme Shelter,” from the album “Forty Licks (Disc 1)”.]

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  1. Wow, I can’t believe the Ga-ga Court is still there! I was googling for pictures of it, since it came up in conversation with some friends — and thought the best I’d find would be an old scanned photo from the 80s. It looks about the same as it did when I was at Peninsula (from about 1983 to 1992) and used to be located over by the gym, before they built the new one. At any rate, it had always been known as “The Ga-ga Court,” so I’m pretty sure it was built originally for that purpose. Though it wasn’t from what I remember, it wasn’t shaped irregularly.

  2. Fascinating. So it’s always been a ga-ga court!

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