BY ASHLEY LODATO
Even though it was the last week before spring vacation and everyone was antsy for a break, lots of things were going on at the elementary school. The week began with a visit from author and artist Betsy Bowen, whose woodcut art is well-known. (In fact, when my oldest daughter was born we were given a copy of Betsy’s Antler, Bear, Canoe woodcut ABC book, never imagining that we might one day meet her … and then forget to take the book to be signed by Betsy.)
Betsy spent the better part of two days with fourth- through sixth-graders, talking about her own work as well as guiding the students through an exercise in writing their own ABC book based on the local flora, fauna, and special places of the Methow Valley.
As students brainstormed words that began with each letter of the alphabet, one girl was scolded by her peers for shouting out “kangaroo!” for the letter K, but I immediately thought of Kangaroo Temple and thought that would be a reasonable inclusion. I didn’t stick around long enough to learn what the students finally settled on for K.
The work the students began with Betsy may turn into a final product that will be featured at the Young Writers’ Conference, which will be held at the elementary school in June. For more information about Betsy Bowen, check out her work at www.woodcut.com.
Later in the week a school-wide assembly at the elementary school served several purposes. First, retired teacher Steve Dixon was honored with an art installation being dedicated to him (See photo this page). A four-panel glass tile mosaic that Steve and the students worked on in his final year of teaching (under the direction of artist Nicole Ringgold) was installed in the lunch room, with a plaque dedicating the artwork to Steve. Steve gave no long speeches, but joined the seventh-graders (who made the mosaic last year, when they were in Steve’s sixth-grade class) in a spirit yell and stomp-stomp-clap march.
After the art dedication, the rest of the assembly was spent watching some talented little gymnasts and fitness dudes perform stunts they have learned through Jeff Monahan’s Cub Fit program. From back walkovers to arm hangs, from pull-ups to clean lifts, the fit cubs demonstrated the many feats the human body is capable of (although not any longer, for some of us!).
Finally, making an already nutty week even crazier, physical education teacher Jean Koreski deemed Friday “Skate Day,” bravely inviting the third- through sixth-graders to bring skates, skateboards, wheelie shoes and scooters (and helmets!) to school to spin around during their final PE class before spring break. And the good times rolled.