“Mark time mark and prep…”
“Okay this little formation here I’m calling the Onion.”
“LINE UP!” “5 minutes until Circle Up Time!”
“3…2…1…*cue drums warming up*
“Get to opening set!”
Six out of the seven quotes were all I heard for four years during the last full week of July. By the third week of July I knew my summer was over and it was time to report back to the band room.
The schedule was always the same: Full week before band camp percussion/field commander/color guard were to report every day. Monday afternoon seniors and the incoming freshman would meet to figure out freshman/senior buddies. This was something that was exciting and I’m still close friends with my senior buddy. Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday particular sections would show up in the afternoon for sectionals. Friday was full band and we would always attempt to play through the show’s music from start to finish. Rarely was it beautiful sounding yet.
The following Sunday we would report at the high school and depart by 2 for band camp. Everyone dreaded going 2.5 hours away to a small town where the cell reception was awful, you relied on fans to keep you cool, and the food was awful. I survived on peanut butter usually that entire week. I wish I were kidding.
While there were parts everyone hated my first two years there were still fun. The class of ’03 and ’04 were big and the people that made them up were funny and made an effort to include the underclassmen in their shenanigans. Thanks to those two classes I really came out of my shell. Those classes set the standard for my class and when we became juniors and seniors we did the same to the incoming class of ’08 and ’09.
Two of the most special parts (at least to me) were Circle Up and Bonfire night. Circle Up happened at the end of every single day. Mr. C would go over the high points of the day and tell us what was on the agenda for the next day. The instructors would take over next and hand out the MVP award to the person who either improved the most that day in marching or practicing. From there we would join hands and one Senior would squeeze the person’s hand next to the them and it would go all the way around. No one talked during this and when it came back around to them they would begin clapping to the beat of the GO BIG BLUE chant. Circle Up would end after all of us sang the Alma Mater & Mr. C would remind us lights out at 11:30.
Bonfire night was the seniors night to shine. It would be on Thursday night & everyone would be kept in the mess hall until the seniors said it was time. It took a lot of prep work and would normally begin around 9PM. We would pair up and make our way along the pathway lit by luminaries. After everyone was settled the Seniors would begin. Each pair would reminisce about the four years in band from their most memorable moment to an embarrassing one. Then the gifting began and no one would ever know who was getting one. One gift that was required would be to the freshman buddy. The first two years Bonfire lasted well into the night-the latest being 3AM. There was laughter and definitely a lot of tears at Bonfire but it was something that everyone always looked forward to and couldn’t wait for their turn.
My first two years of band camp were fun, exhausting, but fun. The next two years…well my director ruined it but that’s another Slice for another time.
180 days have come and gone. During that time we’ve gone on two field trips (one we thought was never going to end), had several lessons in math & reading, and had three interviews on a Tuesday. Time for a final one. Let’s see who wants to start…
OB: Would you rather live in this universe or a universe that you made up? MB: Hmm I think this universe. In this universe all of you exist in this one. If I were to make up one I wouldn’t know any of you and therefore none of you would exist.
GS: Can I have your candy? MB: Sure thing.
H: Can you send my grades to Ms. P to make them all of F’s that way you can have me again next year? MB: It doesn’t work that way. You would be placed with another 4th grade teacher.
G: Who out of this entire class are you going to miss the most? MB: Hmmm….just one person? Or one boy and one girl? G: One boy and one girl.
MB: YK & Seal 1. Oh wait that was last year. Hmm Q.
P: Can I stay with you forever?
MB: Hmm no. You’re moving onto 5th grade.
D: Can I go home now?
MB: In 2 hours and 25 minutes you can!
S: What is your favorite shark?
SP: If you were to choose any color EXCEPT BLUE what would it be?
G: Can I please go home?
MB: Sure thing! In 2 hours and 20 minutes.
YK: Who is your favorite rapper?
MB: 2Pac. I’m old school.
Today is your final time to sit here and watch me write on Slice of Life Tuesday. Now several of you were hoping for an interview, however, I have a plan. This is my open letter to you-all eighteen of you (despite a few of your classmates being absent). As a second year teacher I thought my class last year had taught me everything I needed to know to survive as a teacher. Oh how wrong I was!
September 4th, 2018 at 7:58 AM I heard voices floating down the hallway and I started becoming excited. The first person to walk in the room was a girl and she was excited to be in this room. Except five minutes later we determined that she actually was suppose to go to the class next door. The official first person in this class was a boy. He walked in and he looked so shocked when I told him that he could pick where he wanted to sit. Actually a majority of you were shocked when I told you that. That was the first hint of what kind of teacher I was going to be to you all. As I’ve told you several times this year I always want my students to have a say in their education. Whether it be where they sit, what book we’re reading for literature circle, or what kind of rewards would be offered when you trade in your Eagle Bucks.
Throughout the year all of you have learned how to multiply two digit by two digit numbers, long division (even though one of you thought it was just an evil math game that was impossible to win), challenging words, how to write five paragraph essays, and how the US Government works. But there are some other lessons that I hope you’ve taken away that aren’t part of the curriculum.
Think outside of the box.
There’s more to the world than just West Virginia.
Choose positivity whenever you can.
Now the lessons you’ve taught me? Those are easy.
Always be imaginative.
Maintain your sassiness whenever possible. (This one shouldn’t be too hard for me.)
Sometimes….and only SOMETIMES it’s okay to be the tough guy. (Except don’t talk like you’re from the Southside of Chicago when you’re from West Virginia).
Small moments with all of you have officially tied you with last year’s class: The OG 204.
And so our time together is winding down. This week will be a week of fun and very little of work.
I’ve enjoyed having every single one of you in my class. I hope you enjoy your summer & spend as much time outside as possible. Remember to read, yes read (comic books count), keep up on your multiplication facts because in 5th you will still need to know them, and stay curious. I will still check in on you guys next year. You should know this and even though I won’t be your teacher next year I will still be proud of all of your accomplishments in the coming year.
To my kids, yes my kids, thank you for making my second year just as amazing as my first. And for one final time-this closes this Slice.
9 days. Nine days are left with this class. At first I didn’t think they would grow on me like last year’s class did. But don’t we always think that? Every year we get a new class and we think ‘Good luck topping last year’s class.’ But sure enough by October they’ve wormed their way into our hearts.
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts last year’s class-the Original 204-had a very special place in my heart. That stemmed from something that happened in May.
Last Friday it was the 17th yet again and I found myself dreading the day. I got up, got ready for work (making sure that I wasn’t wearing the dress that I wore a year ago) and went to work. As soon as I heard the kids I put my smile in place and the mask was on. My morning went quickly and before I knew it they were off to specials. That flew by and then the hour was rapidly approaching. My kids come back from lunch at 11:57 and that’s the time I had been dreading. It’s silent reading for them and they came in, found their spots, and began reading. I sat there and tried to keep busy and began fidgeting with things on my desk. But then I feel a pair of eyes on me and so I look up. Who do I see but a pair of brown eyes looking back at me. Quokka (that’s the nickname I’ve given her) is giving me the okay sign. She can tell that her teacher is not okay and she’s not sure why. She writes a note and I write back telling her about why May 17th makes my heart hurt. Two seconds later she’s tapping on her two friends desks (Panda & Foxy) and pointing to the Monopoly Deal cards. (Sidenote: if you haven’t played that game before fair warning it’s highly addicting.) Next thing I know I’m surrounded by three of my girls and we are at war with one another trying to get three different color sets. Twenty minutes go by and next thing I know I’m okay.
Last week was teacher appreciation week, but for me it was student appreciation week. If only those girls knew how much Friday’s impromptu game meant to me because their teacher was dangerously close to crying. And as everyone knows I hate crying in front of people. Never underestimate the intelligence of a ten year old because they have a way of sensing when something is wrong before an adult. We, as adults, could learn a thing or two from them.
Scrolling through Facebook last night I came across an event that a friend was interested in.
June 1st and 2nd Auditions for Mamma Mia at the Strand Theater.
Sitting up a little straighter I click the event and begin reading a little more about when and where the auditions will be held. I know I can’t go on the first night there are auditions. I’ll be a little busy celebrating my birthday. Sunday however is an ideal day because I’ll need something to keep my mind busy that day. Actually I’ll need something to keep me busy this upcoming Friday too (but I’m not going to focus on that).
There are a few requirements for this audition.
Find an uptempo piece of music and be prepared to sing sixteen bars of it.
Read a few scenes from the musical itself.
Choreography that we will learn that day.
When I auditioned for Into the Woods we didn’t have any choreography to learn at the audition and that came later anyways. This part will be something new but I’m not too worried. Memorizing choreography is a strong suite. The part I’m trying to figure out is the uptempo piece of music. I know directors. They strong encourage you NOT to sing a song from the musical you’re auditioning for. My plan is to ask one of the music teachers here at work if I can peruse their sheet music they have for the 7/8 choir. Maybe I’ll find something there.
If you’re wondering if there’s a part I would like to get my answer is no. It’s not like Into the Woods where I was hoping I would get the part of either The Baker’s Wife or The Witch. Fortunately I was awarded the part of the Witch aka the sassiest character in the show. I pulled it off well. When it comes to Mamma Mia I’m not as familiar with the characters. I’ve seen the movie but never the musical. A friend of mine was just in the production that Parkersburg performed. I may grab coffee with her one weekend and ask her opinion of how to read for certain characters. She was cast as one of Donna’s friends. I know I probably wouldn’t get the part of Sophie because 1-I’m not in my 20s and 2-I’m pretty sure her character is out of my vocal range.
If I’m cast in ensemble I’ll be happy too because I’ve missed being in a musical. Yes, it’s exhausting (especially on Tech and Blocking Day) and stressful (memorizing the lines but then again if I can remember the difference between the varying ends of the finales in Into the Woods I can memorize anything!). I’m just hoping to be a part of a theater family again. Fingers crossed!
It’s every teacher’s favorite time of the year. State testing. We started with their least favorite and my favorite. Well when it’s free writing it’s my favorite. When I’m given a topic that I have to write about then it takes me 4x longer to complete it.
Yesterday we started at 8:46 AM and we worked right up until it was time to go to lunch. Today we finished with enough time to go to specials which made my combo kids happy because it was their gym day. Tomorrow we should finish with plenty of time to spare because it’s Math. Most of my kids excel in this subject. This afternoon for Math review we’re going to do Math games to review instead of boring worksheets or the old kill and drill. And then for doing so well again today and working their hardest we are going to go out for recess ten minutes early. Oh and they will also be given a sweet treat to enjoy while out there. Actually they will be given two of said treat. One to enjoy at recess and another to enjoy at home.
Tomorrow afternoon our game plan will either be: A movie or an afternoon of games. Which do we pick? Game day by a majority! I’ve already got my game ready to bring. I had a feeling they would pick that. I have a competitive group this year and I actually like that a lot. And in about three weeks we will begin our relays. 3 teams of six and each day there are treats for everyone when it’s all said and done.
19 days left with this class…I have a feeling it’s going to fly by.
I have three days to get all eighteen of my kids ready for the state test. The GSA. I’m nervous. They’re not happy about it. I’ve been wracking my brain of ways to make the review fun. However I know it’s something they dread.
Our very first testing day is Writing. Right out the gate we have to do the thing that a majority of them hate. No-loathe. They will have to write a five paragraph essay and it will either be informative or an opinion. For some this will be the equivalent of going to the dentist. I will be having the most fun by sitting there and watching them sit there and complete their writing. It’s going to be mind numbing and the longest three days ever.
But one thing that I’m excited about is what I have planned for Thursday and Friday of this week. Now I’m noticing some of my kids perking up. They’re curious as to what I have up my sleeve. I have a feeling one will spend their recess asking me what I have planned but I don’t plan on saying a word. Nice try. I may tell Panda though. Or Foxy. That’s right Quokka. She just said, “You can’t do that.” Ah-but I can. So HA. Maybe even Ninja will be told the secret and maybe Old Bunny. And guys don’t worry it’s not a Back to Basics day. Those are done. Never again. Not after December. We were exhausted for days after that train wreck.
But the one thing I’m really excited about is next Wednesday afternoon. MOVIE DAY! HUGS drinks. Popsicles. Now before then I need to get better speakers. The ones I currently have you can barely hear. It may be set to 100% but it sounds more like 5%. I know what I’m ordering from Amazon tonight. They’ll be here in 2 days.
Now the next bit of exciting news is tomorrow I get to place the order for their books. They are all excited and a couple of them I’m genuinely surprised by the book they chose to call their own. I’m hoping that after being in my classroom this year I’ve inspired a few to become readers.
We have a busy three days ahead of us but some of it will be fun. Test Prep doesn’t always have to be worksheets. And soon the big test will be over and we can get back to science and social studies.
Last Thursday at 3:15 my Spring Break officially began. I had plans to work on the house and get a few things done. Today it’s my last day of break. Tomorrow I hit the ground running with test prep again.
Spring Break was wonderful and part of it was spent with friends. Good Friday was spent painting two walls in my bedroom. Saturday was spent painting the third wall and then the real fun began. Earlier in the week my friend invited me to a birthday party that had added fun. There was karaoke and at first I wasn’t going to sing at all. But then Tonya went up to the guy, pointed to me, and gave him a song. A few minutes later I have a microphone in my hand and I’m singing When You Say Nothing at All. It reminded me of Queen of Queens. As soon as I started singing everyone became very quiet. While this time wasn’t in front of the entire student body it was in front of people that I consider very close friends. When the song was over the next thing I knew I was surrounded by three people hugging me. I wasn’t planning on singing another song but Tonya hopped back over to the guy and picked a new song out for me. I had a blast and was so sad to see the party wrap up. I’ve missed this particular group of co-workers but I’m happy with where I’m working now too. We’re planning on doing another karaoke party again next month. Unlike this time I’ll show up with a prepared list of songs I would like to do.
Easter Sunday’s service was beautiful. Our preacher tied the resurrection of Jesus and the awe/hope that people had after witnessing his crucifixion to the burning of Notre Dame and the Parisians standing and singing Ave Maria while the Cathedral was burning. The way she was able to connect the two amazes me. She truly has a gift of writing sermons. But my favorite part was at the end of the service. We were each given Painted Lady butterflies to release. But it was barely sixty degrees and they were unimpressed with the cold weather.
Spring Break 2019 was a success and while I hate to see it end I know summer is just around the corner!
Red Bold and bright
Bursting with life
A sign that summer has arrived as well as summer too
Smelling sweetly as my grandmother’s favorite perfume
Petals of a geometric design
Teal Calm and soothing like the tide
Creeping and sweeping over the trees like a blanket
Specter-like shapes take form among the leaves and branches
The birds’ song is one of a hushed lullaby
Rain has brought forth the blanket and wraps the mountain in its embrace
These Smoky Mountains
Blue Tall and strong Stubborn but ornery
Carpenter and adventurer
Flannel was all that seemed to suit him
Though gone for three years come August
These are my memories of him
And of his flannel shirts
Lilac Scents of sugar cookies and rose
Garden weathered hands
Hummingbirds and geraniums decorate the porch
Summer nights full of the scent of moon plants
Sewing lessons that took place on a swing
Focal point of our family who was the glue
Dear grandmother to me whose personality exuded warmth
If she were a flower she would’ve been an Iris Yellow Bright colors playfully dance along the seat
Blinking quickly they seem to come alive like fireworks
Red begins playing tag with the purple while green is wavering like a piece of seaweed
But one shade is dominant over all others
Due to the sunlight streaming through the stained glass windows of the cathedral
Every weekend and nearly every day since July 22nd I’ve worked long hours repairing, painting, sanding, and patching rooms in my house. Currently there are four out of seven rooms done. Wednesday night something finally happened that I have been looking forward to ever since I completed a room. I had someone come over to see all of the work that’s been done. It wasn’t a family member but she’s extended family. Once she arrived she was greeted with the sight of spring blooming from the front lawn.
The small pink tulip had finally bloomed that afternoon. It was quite a nice surprise to come home to. As she walked up the walkway she commented how quaint the house was and I couldn’t help but feel proud.
As we walked through the house I gave her a small history of the house and about my grandparents (both sets). Each room had a story and some history included in its decorations. The one room that I loved to show her was the Dollywood room. My preacher being the way she is felt compelled to take a picture.
Before she left we talked a bit more, had a small prayer of thanksgiving and blessing of the house, and just as she started to leave she wanted to take one more picture. The sun was shining into the book room beautifully.
Can you tell butterflies are kind of a theme in this house? Butterflies, bunnies, and birds. The three b’s. Now that I’ve had one guest I’m ready to begin entertaining more friends and family. The house, my house, is officially open for visits.