In-House Field Trip

We had an in-house field trip today at the O.K. Corral.  We’d been working for a while on doing some kind of trip before the end of school.  Our original plan was to go to Busch Wildlife Sanctuary in Jupiter.  The problem with that was that the fee per child was $4.50, then we would have had to tack on another $3.00 to pay for the bus, bringing the total to $7.50, which is really too much to ask from our Title I families.

Enter Bee Understanding, a local non-profit organization that educates people about the importance of honey bees to our food supply.  According to their website, “bees account for thirty percent of the food we eat…”  We received an email from Al and Keely Salopek stating that they are an approved vendor for the school district and explaining what they do.  For $3.50 per child (for a guaranteed 100 students) Mr. Al comes to your school and does an entertaining and interactive hour-long presentation explaining the various types of bees in a hive and the roles that they play.  Following the whole-group presentation, he meets with individual classes for 15 minute sessions where he answers questions and lets kids view his observation hive up close and personal.  Each kid is given a straw of honey to taste and an “I learned about honey bees today.” sticker to wear home.

We ran into a couple of unforeseen problems when we sent home permission slips for this in-house field trip.  For some of our parents, whose children come to school every day and are given free breakfast and free lunch, it was incomprehensible that they should have to pay money for a trip in which the kids don’t actually go anywhere.  Another problem was that many of our kids are scared shitless of animals, period, let alone bees.  I had five kids who resisted three rounds of permission slips and opted to be farmed out to some of our third-grade friends rather than attend the presentation.

But it was their loss, because the session was terrific.  Mr. Al was enthusiastic and entertaining, keeping the nearly 100 first graders enthralled for a whole hour.  He brought costumes and props and invited kids to come onstage to portray the various bee jobs.  By the end of the hour, the kids knew all sorts of things about how a bee hive operates and why bees are essential to our world.

I would highly recommend Bee Understanding as an affordable alternative to a field trip away from school.  If you’re not local to Palm Beach County, check with your local Backyard Beekeepers’ Association to see if this type of program is available in your area.

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Missed It By This Much

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We’re blessed in many ways to live where we do.  Obviously, we have great weather almost all the time.  People save all their lives to vacation here.  We probably take a lot for granted. 

One of the cool things we have going for us is a world-class performing arts center.  They offer the students of the county some terrific programming in the form of the STARS series, the Students & Teachers Arts Resource Series.   Every year diverse performing arts programs are offered for students of all ages, pre-K through high school.  Even better than that is their commitment to providing these programs free of charge to students in need.  If a kid qualifies for free or reduced-cost lunch, they are admitted free to these shows.  That’s 94% of the students at our school. 

The show are really good, too.  For example, the Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia puts on a really amazing show using a very “innovative type of puppetry” (trying to come up with an adequate description, I stole this off their website) to dramatize popular children’s literature.  One year we saw their Leo Lionni show, and they’ve also done Eric Carle,  This year’s show is Stella, Queen of the Snow.  (Just FYI, they’re on Word Press.  http://mermaidtheatre.wordpress.com/ )

So today was the day for teachers to call to order tickets to these shows.  Generally speaking, you pick your first, second, and third choices, keeping them in mind should you actually get through.  It should come as no surprise that this is a highly competitive task.  The phones opened up at 9:30.  My entire first grade team was on the phone trying to get tickets for the whole grade level for over an hour.  We’re talking about making over 200 attempts per teacher to get through.  A couple of us actually spoke to someone, but by that time any shows we were interested in had two seats available here, three seats available there, absolutely not enough for about 125 students and chaperones. 

Rubbing salt into the wound were photos posted on Facebook of some of our colleagues from other grade levels who went to wait outside the performing arts center at 4:00 am.  I didn’t hear for sure, but they probably got tickets.  So what have we learned?

Next time, we’re not going to show up to wait on line at 3:00 am.  Here’s my plan: Not a stone’s throw away from the place, there’s a club that’s open until 4:00 am.  We’ll go there, hang out dancing and drinking, then stagger on over to the performing arts center, picking up some french fries from the 24-hour place along the way.  We’ll sit in front of the ticket window, munch fries, and sober up while we wait for them to open.  Boom!

I’m not Miss Beadle.