Yay to the Sumner County School Board for voting to rename Wessington Place Elementary School in Hendersonville, George Whitten Elementary School. Kudos also go to Ben Bush for getting the petition started and getting the ball rolling on making it all happen. George Whitten was the principal at Wessington for about 25 years until he died of cancer just before this past Christmas. Before principaling, Mr. Whitten taught in Sumner County schools, so lots of kids in Hendersonville (and a lot of adults) were products of his tutelage.
Mr. Whitten was our principal for just two years. #1 Son began his school career at Wessington, attending there for kindergarten and first second grade, before a new elementary school came in and we were re-zoned for the new facility.
During #1’s kindergarten year, I had begun working full time, which left Mr. Smiff responsible for getting the lad off to school every morning. Mr. Smiff, being a musician, keeps musician hours. My mother in law refers to it as “Elvis Standard Time”, meaning late nights and waking at the crack of noon.
While #1 was in preschool, he didn’t have to get there til about 9:30 and there was no strict rules about getting the kids there on time. This was perfect for Mr. Smiff. (Look up “slow” or “laid back” in Mr. Webster and you are likely to see his picture.) Elementary school, as Mr. Smiff was soon to learn, is not quite so relaxed as far as the school bell was concerned, nor were they interested in the shedyool that he was accustomed to.
As a result of a few too many mornings missing the bell, #1 brought home a note informing us that he was due to report to detention as punishment for his tardiness. Detention for a kindergartner??!??!?! Mr. Smiff was livid. He was going to go confront Mr. Whitten and settle this matter and that was that. He was all ready to deal with the big, badass principal. He was going to tell Mr. Whitten how it was. I told Mr. Smiff that we were in a different playing field now and things like getting to school on time was not a matter of our convenience and that we couldn’t get #1 there whenever we felt like it. “Pffft” said Mr. Smiff. For he is the Dad.
Needless to say, #1 completed his sentence in detention. This happened after Mr. Smiff went and had a little chat with Mr. Whitten. Mr. Whitten wasn’t such a badass after all. He explained to Mr. Smiff that he couldn’t let one kid slide on the rules and not the other. (Same thing I had said). I believe Dad felt pretty bad when all was said and done that #1 had pretty much been sentenced to dentention because of his not getting him to school on time. Tardiness was never a problem again for any of the Smiff Kids.