Home Brew: Day 9
The teaching ends with a bang! in the best possible way. All morning and afternoon I sit back and listen as every single 6th grader in the entire school reads at our open mic. Of course, a few have forgotten their homework entirely and so I have paragraphs from a random story prepared for them to read. I’m determined—homework or not—to see every single one of them stand before and audience and project their voices. A few students read more than one piece, but by and large they read one poem or one story, accept their applause gracefully or awkwardly, and introduce the next reader.
Afterwards, I host a Q&A about “what it’s like to be a working writer” which, incidentally, includes a dozen questions about Bigfoot when kids find out I’m from Oregon. I’m proud to say that, at least the boys of the 6th grade, are now fully reassured by me that Bigfoot does in fact exist (nine feet tall, hands as big as your face) and that he can read minds. Oh, and in case anyone wanted to know, he is also part human, yes I’ve seen him, and no, he’ll never come to North Carolina because, as all Oregonians know, Bigfoot loves his home state and will never leave.
In addition to our open mic, this school also has an assembly going on two times throughout the day in honor of Veteran’s Day. The kids are amped from the funky schedule and the fact that they have Thursday, the actual holiday, off. It’s about 30 yards from where I’m sitting to the end of the 6th grade corridor, and as I slowly limp away, a few students approach me shyly. “I’m going to fill this whole notebook by Christmas,” says one girl. “When Sarah and I grow up, we want to be a writer, like you,” says another. “I think I’m going to be a reporter,” says a young boy. “I’m going to take my notebook with me everywhere I go,” says another.
It feels good to bask in their innocence and enthusiasm. I say goodbye and head out the main doors of the school, but not before noticing this billboard designed by the 3rd grade:
Which branch would you join? followed by the branches of the military and carefully colored insignias filled in by the students. My heart sinks. Where’s the Peace Corps branch? What about the “none of the above” branch? Or, in light of all the bright faces I taught this week, where is the ARTIST branch? I say a silent prayer for these students, then push through main doors.