I have in my life done a fair amount of writing, and I have to tell you that the absolute hardest part is coming up with an opening paragraph. A writer searches for that one or two special sentences that will grab the reader’s attention and draw him into the piece.
Recently one of my second-graders hit that nail squarely on the head. Each quarter my students are asked for a writing sample. First quarter’s assignment was to write a Halloween story. The student’s story began, “Once there was a vampire named Dracula. He lived to suck blood.”
Now there’s some opening sentences! I really enjoy teaching writing to children. While all my writing assignments are designed to help the children develop their writing skills, I have to confess that occasionally there is an assignment which I give for my amusement. Case in point, last week the children were asked to pretend that they were turkeys and to write me a letter to persuade me not to eat them for Thanksgiving. They came up with some very interesting reasons. Some were too pretty, while others claimed to be unhealthy or even poisonous.
One “turkey” even said she played soccer and was all bruised up. I think she may have been confusing turkeys with apples. Last month during the field trip to Brumbaugh’s Fruit Farm the children learned that when an apple falls and gets bruised, it begins to rot. However, I am not an expert on turkeys, soccer playing or otherwise, so perhaps soccer playing turkeys have rotten spots.
Speaking of turkeys and Thanksgiving, St. Mary’s will have its annual Thanksgiving luncheon today. Already the ingredients are being gathered. There are several pounds of apples waiting to be washed and sliced up by the second-graders and bread waiting to be transformed into the first-graders’ special stuffing. All the students will be busy next week preparing their class’s contribution to the feast. One of the highlights of the dinner is the return of our alumni. It’s Thanksgiving and Homecoming all rolled into one!
Nov. 1 was the Feast of All Saints. As is our custom, the seventh- and eighth-graders, dressed as saints, gave short presentations about their chosen saints. They gave their presentations in character. I think my favorite was the young man who at the end of his speech said he had to go now because God wanted him back in heaven. The preschoolers only go to Mass on special days. The seventh- and eighth-graders are their big buddies. At Communion time I looked up and saw the “saints” very gently and patiently helping their little buddies out of the pews and guiding them toward the sanctuary to receive their blessing. You know, their presentations were great, but their actions far outshone the speeches that morning.
On Nov. 16, Muffins for Mom was hosted by the St. Mary’s Board of Trustees. The moms and their children enjoyed muffins and beverages before school. The event was very well attended. Next month on Dec. 7, the will host Donuts for Dad.
Kathy Schemmel came on Nov. 16 and talked to the fifth- through eighth-graders about consecrated women. She is a consecrated missionary working in Trinidad.
The fifth- through eighth-grades traveled to Victoria Theater to see a performance of The Wright Brothers. The students enjoyed the performance. The younger children will also attend a performance at the Victoria later in the school year.
On Nov. 18, the seventh- and eighth-graders attended the Northern Area Schools Mass. This is an opportunity for the students from the Catholic Schools in the northern area of the archdiocese to gather and worship together.
As I am writing this column, Thanksgiving is still in the future, albeit the very near future. And as I mentioned, the students are ready to prepare the feast. However we are already preparing for the Christmas program which will be on Dec. 12 beginning at 7 p.m.
Actually we, as in the kindergarten through fourth-graders, have been working on the Christmas program since Halloween. This year, the school will present a live Nativity in the grassy area next to the playground. The kindergartners through fourth-graders will sing. The children have been working very hard on several special songs. The public is invited. In case of inclement weather, the program will be moved to the church.
On behalf of the staff and students at St. Mary’s School, I hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving.
Kathy Ayette is a teacher at St. Mary’s Catholic School. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.