In September, we celebrate Labor Day. Congress naming Labor Day a federal holiday was a reaction to the labor movements of the late 19th Century in which workers protested the terrible conditions under which they worked. Overcrowded work spaces, young children forced to work, dangerous and dirty conditions, and long hours were normal in many factories during this time. The people of the Labor Movement staged protests, marches, along with other organized events. Unfortunately, many of these larger protests ended with violence and tragedy. One group staged what they referred to as a “workingmen’s holiday” in which laborers, as a group, would take the day off in a sign of solidarity and protest. As news spread, this type of protest would occur in different cities across the United States. In 1885, Labor Day was celebrated in many of the industrial centers of the country and finally became a national holiday in 1894. It is meant to be a day to celebrate “the social and economic achievements of American workers.”
For most of us, it marks the unofficial end of summer and the beginning of the school year. When I was growing up, the area Del’s Lemonade closed on Labor Day weekend. The ice cream truck stopped ringing its bell in my neighborhood. In the fashion world, it marks the date past which you should not wear white (though I don’t know if that is the case anymore). When I worked in the supermarket, I was paid double time; so, you know I worked. My point is, amidst the end of summer sales and the emptier beaches, we have lost the original purpose of a holiday that celebrates the impact of hard workers on our nation.
Hard work comes in many forms. Sometimes, it’s working out a math problem for the fourth time. Sometimes, it’s squeezing that last sentence into an essay. Sometimes, it’s deciding when the game you’ve taken months to create is ready to play. Sometimes, it’s getting out of bed in the morning. Sometimes, it’s being able to stay still in a seat for more than ten minute increments. Sometimes, it’s trying to concentrate on school when there are issues that are happening at home. Our students deal with a wide range of challenges both at school and at home. Let’s celebrate Student of the Month by nominating students that rise up to face these challenges with perseverance and, of course, HARD WORK. - Mike Giroux, Dean of Students