On Friday my students threw me a surprise party. At least four teachers, one staff member, a half-dozen mothers and one substitute teacher helped them. They pulled the surprise off even though I knew it was going to happen ….
First off, I had no clue. They planned the entire thing without my catching wind of it. Then Friday came. One of the girls asked what I’d brought for lunch. That surprised me. My daily prep period and my lunch period are back-to-back. I usually go home for lunch and my students know it; but then again, with the report card deadline looming I hadn’t gone home to lunch all week and instead had eaten at my desk while working. I answered, “Oh, I think I’ll go home and have leftovers.” My response prompted dismay not only from the child who’d asked the question, but also from a half-dozen other children. Cindy and Nessa immediately leapt to their feet and cried out in unison, “We have to talk to Mr. K. now!” Then they shot from the room without asking permission.
This is weird. My brain instructed me to pay attention. I reviewed the events of the day. Several of my students had arrived at school that morning with bags of goodies. They claimed they were for parties in their reading classes. I was mildly surprised because our school holds the reading period sacred and such things as parties are highly discouraged, still it was the last day so a party might be plausible — except reading period had passed and some of the treat-filled sacks were still on the cupboard by my sink.
At that moment the door opened. Mr. K. entered the room. Nessa and Cindy followed him beaming triumphantly. Mr. K., agitated, said, “I am having some trouble with the report card program. I just can’t get it to work. I won’t have my report cards in on time. I know you usually go home to lunch, but you just have to stay and help me!”
Even weirder. Mr. K. used to jump out of airplanes for a living. He isn’t the type to get agitated over little things — and even if he were, the school’s technology expert was in his classroom at that very moment working on a project with his students. I followed him out the door.
“Okay, Joe,” I said once we were in the hallway, “they’re planning a party for me aren’t they.”
Joe held up his hands, “I didn’t say that.”
“Do you really need my help with your report cards?”
He shrugged, “Well — no.” I nodded my head and turned back toward my room. “No!” He actually put out his arm to block me. “You can’t go back in there.”
I nodded my head and said, “I thought so.” We stood in the hall and talked about what an incredible group of kids I have this year, and how much fun they’ve been to work with (since we share classes, Joe has taught them as well). Mrs. C. walked briskly up to us. “Charlene, you know what your students are up to don’t you?” I told her I did and she responded. “Then kindly step into Mr. Kahovec’s classroom. You need to stay out of the hallway and let them do what they need to do. Remember they still have to get to class.” She shoved me through the door to Joe’s room and said, “Ten minutes.”
My kids did still have to get to class. It was my free period, but they were supposed to be with Mrs. B. — except Mrs. B. was at a leadership seminar and had left them with a sub. I wondered how the sub was going to feel about 24 tardy students. Then Joe distracted me by pointing out some of the projects my students had worked on in his classroom. Finally he said, “Come on, I’ll walk you back to class and see if it’s safe for you to go in.”
The door was closed. I could see through the tiny security window that the lights were off. I expected that they’d let me walk in and turn the lights on, then they’d all jump out from under the table and yell, “Surprise.” That’s how they surprised me. They were all kneeling, crowded around the door, and when I opened it they jumped up screaming and frightened me out of five years of my life. They revived me with cake, potato chips and warm Coke — all the elements of a successful party thrown by eleven year-olds.
The sub was in the classroom with them. She was cutting cake and supervising the pouring of the soda. My only job was to enjoy the party, which I did.
Later I learned that the party idea originated with two girls who enlisted the aid of the Librarian and the custodian (there were luau decorations hanging from my classroom ceiling). The kids even did all the cleaning up after the party, right down to scrubbing frosting out of the carpet and vacuuming the floor.
Btw, June first was my Blogiversary — one year of posting. One year — 365 days, well, 368 as of today, and this is my 507th post. I am a talky thing.
Speaking of being a talky-thing, I am the guest reader at Waking Ambrose today. Doug, the host of Waking Ambrose, has written a delightful serial starring Diogenes and many other figures from Greek history and mythology and every Saturday he invites a friend to read an episode. This week I am reading:
Episode 22 of The Meditations of Diogenes The Cynic.
You can also find me here (the March 17th installment), reading with OC:
Episode 11 of The Meditations of Diogenes The Cynic.