I am in the home stretch of the home stretch of having a kiddo in elementary school. I can hardly believe it. For the past 5 1/2 years, Clayton Elementary School has been my go-to destination for volunteering. I've helped out with kindergarten centers and as a room mom (in at least one classroom of every grade level). I've served on the PTA as both the Staff Appreciation Chair and Reflections Chair. I've helped with the Harvest Festival, movie nights, the end-of-the-year carnival, and Wacky Games. I've chaperoned field trips,coordinated art projects, planned classroom parties, made bulletin boards, graded papers, and made copies. I've tutored students in 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade and helped run science experiments. One year, I taught journalism to 5th graders. I've covered recess duty and filled in with Training Camp coverage. I've eaten lunch in the cafeteria and served breakfast to teachers before school. I've cooked meals for the entire staff and baked cookies and brownies for orchestra concerts. I know the principal, the secretary, the custodian, the librarian, and all the teachers.
I'm telling you this not to pat myself on the back, but to illustrate just how big a part of my life Clayton Elementary has been since we moved up here in 2006. In a lot of ways, Clayton helped me find my place when we moved back to Wisconsin. Not only did they help make the transition easy for my kids, but they found plenty of ways to make me feel welcome and needed, as well. My first friendships were made at the Harvest Festival and on a school bus heading to a field trip. Members of the PTA welcomed me with open arms, and teachers trusted me to teach and craft with their students. To say that Clayton Elementary is a special place would be an understatement; it has been a constant blessing in both my kids' lives, and my own since day one.
This week Clayton will hold its very first Celebration of the Arts. The idea for this program started years ago, when I read this blog. I loved the idea of a school setting aside an entire week just to celebrate the arts. Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to get a school district to set aside an entire week of curriculum in order to do art. However, I believe celebrating kids' creativity is important, too. I remember the art room at grammar school--it was magical place. I remember being in the grammar school play. I loved being in band and writing stories. Creativity is important. The arts are important. After 3 years of proposing the idea of an arts celebration, I got it to stick--and just in time--Jack has only a month left at Clayton. We have 130 entries for Thursday night. I'm beyond thrilled at the response. On Thursday night, students will show off their artwork and sculptures and collages. They'll also perform dances and play their instruments and sing. Stories and poems will be on display, and samples of culinary delights will be offered. It's going to be awesome--a night where every student can shine.
Celebration of the Arts is my last official "hurrah" at Clayton, and I can't think of a better way to go out. Thanks for the memories, Clayton Elementary. You will always hold a special place in my heart.