Tomorrow is the first official workday of the school year, so I guess it’s a good time to finally blog about the end of the last school year! The end of the school year is always a fun time. The teachers and student’s spirits are high and excited for summer, a sense of accomplishment (for all parties involved) is spreading, and the fun extra distractions are packed into the schedule.
The Talent Show:
I was one of about 5 teachers involved in organizing/planning and running the talent show. We held try outs (I totally felt like Paula, except for without being drugged…), ran rehearsals and then organized and ran the daytime outside show (for students) and the nighttime inside show (for parents). It was a lot of work, but it was fun to work with the “best of the best” talent at Rolling Hills. Now, in most elementary school talent shows the talent is well, less impressive…but the kids are young and still learning, and it is a cute display of brave children regardless of how actually talented they are. I was amazed at the difference a few years (and money for a few more lessons makes…), the kids were really, REALLY talented! There were a few bands that had spent countless hours practicing, some singers seriously worthy of American Idol, and lots of other fun and entertaining acts.
I also excitedly volunteered for the “teacher performance” which is always a surprise to the kids, and their favorite part of the show. One of the creative P.E. teachers, Ashley, came up with the idea of doing a “Thriller” performance as zombies, and spent time learning the dance to teach us, as well as substituting some more appropriate moves for the excessive amount of sexual pelvic-thrusting in the actual Thriller dance. We had several practices to hone our skills, and created our zombie costumes. I totally felt like a junior higher after our first practice when I excitedly ran in the door and said “SOL! SOL! Check out the cool dance I learned at school today!”
I had just cleaned out my closet, and happened to run into an old white sundress and bridal shower party-store veil and had the brilliant inspiration to turn it into a zombie bride outfit. I spent awhile in the backyard one afternoon zomie-ing it up, rubbing it in mud, ripping it to shreds and splattering red paint all over it. I mentioned my costume idea in one of our practices, and my teacher friend Scott’s wheels started turning and he told me that he used to be a limo driver and had an old tux…he could be a zombie groom! We thought the idea was hilarious and we even choreographed a wedding style dance in the “free-style” portion of our routine. Scott brought me clean white shirt the morning of the talent show to “zombie-up” and I began giving it a similar ripping, dirtying, red-paint treatment that I had given to my dress. Keep in mind, I was doing this on the back counter of my classroom, and I had kids all morning that didn’t know about the secret performance, but in true junior high fashion they were oblivious to what I was doing to the shirt or why. At the start of the talent show I took the shirt to Scott’s room so he would be able to change before the performance. He was in the middle of his shift watching “the bad kids” who weren’t allowed to attend the talent show, and when I walked in with the ripped and bloody shirt, I suddenly had all their attention and walked in to gasps and open mouths, and one girl squealed, “Did you just KILL someone!?!?!”
The weather the week of the talent show, and even the morning of was perfect and sunny, so we felt confident that the outdoor amphitheater was going to be the ideal spot for all 1,000 students and 50 so teachers to gather for the performances. The weather started out nice, but by the end of the 90 minute show (and our teacher finale), the rain was coming down in buckets. It actually created quite the perfect inclement atmosphere for the zombies to arrive. About 10 minutes before our performance at a decided time, the teachers crept out the back of the amphitheater and to a nearby classroom to begin our transformation. We giggled as we nervously and quickly teased hair, slapped on red, black and white face makeup and put on our fabulous zombie outfits. We were ready, and we waited for our cue. The final student performance ended, and the band teacher went to the stage to thank everyone for being a good audience, thank the performance, yada yada, he was just stalling and waiting to be “surprised” at our entrance. His speech was interrupted by the creepy storm, howling intro to “Thriller”, and the band teacher screamed as we began to make our zombie dissent down to the stage. We zombied our way down into the theater, I’m not quite sure what a zombie is supposed to do, or what noises they make, but I was lunging and growling at screaming kids as I straight-armed my way down to the stage. The kids went CRAZY as we made our way into the amphitheater, they were so loud and excited. Here is the evidence of the fruits of our labor, and it’s success:
After the show, we gathered for a photo session, the kids all gathered around to take pictures of us. The performance was also filmed via cell phone video and posted to youtube within 1 hour…a new record!
The Art Show:
The Art show coincided with the Talent show, and I, being the only art teacher, was the obvious and expected only responsible party for accepting submissions, mounting artwork and setting up the show. It made my already hectic talent show and teaching schedule more hectic, but with the help of some responsible teacher’s aides and leadership students (and my first period class which experienced a “how to set up an art show” lesson one day…) I was able to pull it all together successfully. I, um, forced (and I mean that in a loving and supportive way..) my advanced class to submit their two self-portrait projects that we had been working hard on (a large, abstract, monochromatic self-portrait and a small accurate, graphite shaded self-portrait), and I also accepted submissions from all other Rolling Hills students to enhance the show. I was really happy with the outcome, and the large colorful portraits made excellent scenery for the indoor, nighttime talent show performance. I even chose winners and awarded them with brightly colored art show ribbons.
Sue and Shauna came to see the art show and left me this sweet present. They are the cutest!
The Drug Store Event:
Our school held an all day event called “The Drug Store Project.” The counselor at our school saw this program in Tahoe, and it was really successful, so we brought it to our school. Thanks to HUGE community participation of all kinds of local service organizations, the event was a huge success. The program is similar to the “Every 15 Minutes” program designed for high schoolers, and is geared towards middle schoolers with a focus on drug awareness- specifically prescription drugs. As quoted by one of the officers, “You guys live in El Dorado Hills, you are unlikely to go buy some heroin on the street. You are more likely to experiment with what you have access to in your parent’s medicine cabinet.” The day started fairly light-heartedly, we traveled in groups with an army leader (I don’t know his rank specifically but he was a stern man in fatigues), and got to see several cool demonstrations including a helicopter landing on the field, a drug sniffing/attack dog, and a bomb detecting robot. There was a series of tents set up on both black tops, and after we had seen the static stations, we started the rotation through the tents and the “drug store” experience. The first tent had 2 police officers showing a table with examples of different illicit drugs and prescription drugs, and after explaining the drugs and related offenses, the students were invited up to get a closer look at the drugs. This was actually just an excuse to give a “planted” student the opportunity to “swipe” some drugs off the table. None of the other students had any clue what was going on (the planted student had been previously trained on the “act”), and when the officer abruptly stopped the student, searched her, and then handcuffed her…they were frozen in shock and fear. The student’s then moved through 9 different tents to see the planted student be booked into juvenile hall (this tent was complete with an actual cell and ornery juvenile delinquent) , sent to trial, sent to sentencing and counseling, and then to a staged “pharm party” scene where she collapses, then to a hospital (an actual ambulance and paramedics drive up to the tent, strap her to the gurney and drive her to the hospital tent), she is pronounced dead at the hospital tent and then we witnessed her mock funeral where her parents and a pastor actually spoke. There was a different planted student for every group, and it was an extremely powerful and educational experience for the students.
Open house is a pretty typical annual event. Nothing particularly exciting to report, just lots of pretty pictures to share. My room looked cleaner and spiffier than it did all year, and I plastered the walls, windows and white boards with wonderful student artwork. My job during the actual open house was just to stand around and look pretty, but my favorite part was listening to the students pull out their portfolios and art journals and explain their artwork to their parents. It was my ah-ha moment that they actually GOT the concepts and ideas behind the projects, they were even using the official art vocabulary and referring to artists and techniques…I was so proud I almost cried. I am so proud of my little artists!
8th grade dance:
Every teacher has to have 1 dance duty per year, and I was really excited about my first junior high dance. (Well, as a teacher) My scheduled dance was the biggest dance of the year, the 8th grade graduation dance. I was really impressed with how BIG the parents went to make this a really special celebration, and all the kids had a great time…(and were surprisingly on their best behavior!)
I ordered a yearbook this year, I felt it was especially important to document my first year teaching junior high. I was on a few pages, and featured on the “new bengals” page. At the beginning of the year, I filled out a long questionnaire that involved questions about my teaching experience, and how I felt about Rolling Hills. There was one question on there about the coolest job I had in college, so I wrote about my job I had while living in Waikiki for the summer. Of course that is the one “soundbite” the yearbook kids chose for the yearbook…It was funny and seemed random amongst the quotes from the other new teachers about what they liked about Rolling Hills.
7th grade fun day:
The week before school was out the 7th graders participated in an all day fun-day while the 8th graders had their celebration at Sunsplash. There were inflatables galore, a dunk tank (for which I was a victim of), a BBQ, DJ, Wii tournament and dodge ball. The kids all had a great time, and the teachers helping out were all exhausted!
The last day of school/ 8th grade promotion:
Ah, the last day. It never feels any less glorious. It was a pretty uneventful day, my classes watched Napoleon Dynamite and made friendship bracelets. I didn’t get to go to 8th grade graduation because I had 7th grade classes during that time, but I got coverage for 1 period so I could go out to the black top before graduation started to hug my 8th graders, take pictures, and tell them how pretty/handsome they looked all dolled up and ready for high school!