There comes a time in everyone’s life when one pauses and asks that all important question, “Really? What was I thinking!” My moment came the day before my second art class of October.
Years ago we had a first-grade teacher on staff who every October made jack-o-lanterns from grocery sacks with her class. In fact, while looking for something in my attic recently, I stumbled over the jack-o-lantern that my 31-year-old had made when he was in her class. The project involves crumbling and stuffing a year’s worth of old newspaper into brown paper grocery sacks and then painting said sacks with a gallon or so of orange tempera paint (details to be added later).
Many years later when I was hired as the first-grade teacher, I decided to revive the tradition. When the first and second grades were combined, I decided to do the pumpkins with the first-graders and do spiders with the second-graders. It’s basically the same project, just smaller bags, a half-year’s worth of newspaper and a half-gallon of black paint, fuzzy legs and shaky eyes. I always do this project for the first art class of October, and every year when I am knee-deep in newspaper, I swear never again! After school I spent a good 90 minutes cleaning large, medium and small foam brushes and about a dozen detail brushes, vowing there would be no painting in my room until at least Easter.
But… when I was planning for the next week, I thought, “Gee, we haven’t done ‘foot ghosts’” for a while. What’s a foot ghost? It is a ghost made by painting the bottom of a child’s foot and having him step on a piece of black paper. So on the afternoon before art, as I was setting out paint and brushes, I thought “Really? What was I thinking?” I had a bit more help for this project thanks to a brave grandma, dad and several moms. God love them, they even cleaned out the brushes for me! As yet I still haven’t decided our next project for art class, but I will tell you this. The medium for the next class will be crayons, definitely crayons.
October is the month of the Holy Rosary. In the morning, the eighth-graders begin the Rosary with the school. This year, they are doing something different. Instead of beginning the first mystery, they read a sentence or two describing each mystery in the set that we will pray that day.
I had to laugh when I checked the school calendar for events to write about. If only this letter was a week later! The next two weeks are jam packed with special events. Today, the preschool through second grades will go on the annual Brumbaugh Fruit Farm field trip. This is one of the highly anticipated events of first and second grade. The children will learn about how apples are grown and harvested, and the important role that honey bees play in the development of apples. The children then will be treated to a hayride during which they will stop by the pumpkin patch and choose a pumpkin to take home. Afterwards, they will enjoy playing in the playground and going through the spooky, but not too spooky, haunted house. On the following day, the first-graders will go the FFA Farm and Safety Awareness Day. This is an annual event sponsored by the Greenville High School Future Farmers of America. The high school students teach the children about safety and how we get our food. Usually we meet some of our St. Mary’s alumni. I am by the way officially old. Not only have I taught the St. Mary’ alumni, but I was one of the band moms when the club’s faculty adviser was in band!
On Monday, the fourth- through sixth-graders will see a musical sponsored by the DCCA, Arts in Education. The musical is about John Henry, a mythical figure from American folklore. John Henry was the best track layer for the railroad, and is best known for his famous contest against the steam driven track layer. Although he won the contest, he died of a broken heart, knowing that ordinary men could not compete against the modern machines.
Two very scary things happen Oct. 30. First, it is the day of the eighth-grade’s haunted classroom and the Halloween parties. Second, and by far the scarier, it is the end of the first nine weeks. Hard to believe, the first quarter will be over.
So watch out for the ghosts and goblins and things that go bump in the night! Happy Halloween!
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.