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Posted 2/06/13 (Wed)
A picture is worth a thousand words, all right, sometimes more.
And sometimes I wish I could share the entire experience with you, rather than just one or two two-dimensional images.
Case in point: the 100th day of school.
I don’t know about you, but where and when I attended elementary school, we never celebrated the 100th Day. We learned the calendar, of course, but as for counting the days we spent in our classrooms each year--well, that never happened. Maybe my teachers didn’t want to think about it.
When I started teaching in the 1990s, my friends who taught the elementary grades did focus on that number and planned accordingly. Somehow, the 100th Day of School became a marker to reach, a goal to aspire to, a milestone to celebrate. The day didn’t hold much significance for our middle school students, but the younger kids had fun.
In 12 years here at The Kenmare News, I’ve never been contacted to cover a 100th Day of School event. However, last week on the Big Day, January 30th, Terry and Fay described how their second grade daughter and some of her classmates prepared for the activities in their class.
I couldn’t resist. I had to go see for myself and take the camera along to record the moment.
After all, what could be better than seven-year-olds dressing as 100-year-olds in honor of the 100th Day?
You can see the result in this issue of the paper--the canes, the walker, the shawls and ponchos, the sweaters and flannel shirts, the suspenders and glasses.
But you don’t hear what I heard, and the photo doesn’t portray what happened before and after the picture was taken--100-year-old people as only second graders can imagine them.
Elementary secretary Monica Kjos escorted me to Mr. Keysor’s room, where we interrupted the class counting out loud to 100 by odd numbers (they were in the 80s when we knocked on the door). I requested the photo and Mr. Keysor agreed, asking the students who had dressed for the day to gather at the front of the room.
Now, I’ve interviewed four centenarians for this newspaper, and some of them moved faster than these kids did.
I am not kidding, the students needed at least five minutes to stand and stretch, creak and moan, then adjust their sweaters and glasses, grab their preferred walking accessory and shuffle to the front of the classroom, a mere 10 or 12 feet away for most of them.
They talked in quavering voices the whole way up there about various aches and pains and problems with using a cane, then lined up in their 100-year-old bodies and smiled for the camera.
The walk back to their desks took just as long, with just as much shuffling.
They assured me they would be moving at the same speed during recess later in the day.
I made a mistake when I laughed at that statement and asked them how it felt to be old fogeys for a day. Jaxson Holter, who had reached his front row desk by that point, looked up and glared at me from behind thick-rimmed, black plastic glasses. He shook his finger. “Don’t call us old fogeys!” he rasped.
This from the boy who had the top part of his head shaved for the day, with a fringe left around the back side in a hairstyle similar to that of most of our grandfathers.
I wanted to laugh again, but I have been trained to be respectful of my elders, even if my elders are really much, much younger.
Instead, I solemnly wished them well and congratulated them on the first 100 days of their second grade career.
I may have refrained from laughing, but my face hurt from grinning. 100 years old never looked and sounded better!