If you were to walk into my classroom at 7:50 a.m. on a “Bon Jovi Day,” you would see 35 tenth grade students getting out their homework and warm-ups while bobbing their heads and singing along to (of course) Bon Jovi. One student, who frequently walks in just after the bell, smiles and bursts into song as she comes through the door. I play music every morning while my students are coming into class and getting settled, but Bon Jovi Days are special.
It started on a day in September when I knew I needed an energy boost in the morning. So, I played “Wanted, Dead or Alive” and “Livin’ on a Prayer.” I always sing along, but now (no joke) my first period class sings along with me. Not everyone, but close to it. They used to only chime in on choruses, but we are at a point now where they know most of the words to “Livin’ on a Prayer.” It is probably a good thing that the teachers on either side of me don’t have classes first period; we can get pretty loud.
I had never really thought about the connection between “Livin’ on a Prayer” and the reality that informs the song. For those of you who may not love Bon Jovi the way that my class and I do, this song tells the story of two young people who are working hard, Tommy on the docks and Gina in a diner, but they are still having a difficult time making ends meet. In fact, Tommy had to hock his six-string, and Gina cries in the night. Everyday we hear more stories like this.
While some of our news coverage has seemed to send the message that our project is a great way to save money, for some people, saving money is not the main concern; it is how to get by. As we have said before, during September, I believe, it is not always possible for people who are struggling to live the way we did. We bought in bulk at the beginning of the month. We also have the means to store large quantities of food, and we had the ability to cook from scratch. These things are not realistic for everyone. With the struggling economy and the increasing rate of layoffs, things are tough right now, and we don’t all have Bon Jovi’s “Tommy” to whisper the reassuring “Baby, it’s okay.”
This past week has been another adventure with the media. On Thursday, my school’s newspaper, The Mustang (it just won a Pacemaker Award!), had an article about our project. On Friday, we were on the Dwyer & Michael’s Morning show, a radio program in Davenport, Iowa. Today we were on our local Fox 5 news show with Raoul Martinez.
This afternoon we will stop by the Community Resource Center to deliver 25 lb. bags of beans and rice along with some household goods. It’s not too late to help others in your area. We recommend that you re-visit “Living on a Prayer” and make this week count for all the real Tommys and Ginas out there.