Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Shiny, Happy People

This week, I showed some of my class periods the new video I downloaded from Itunes. "Shiny Happy People" by REM. I couldn't find the real video to embed, so I found "Furry Happy Monsters" on here!!

Some of the students got up and danced. Some of the students sat in their desks mortified at the music choice of their teacher. Some of the students were mortified.

"Mrs. Aakhus, this song is creepy."

"Look! Mrs. Aakhus... how can this song be happy when they're making that old man do all the work in the background." (Of course, you don't see this on this video... but on the real REM video.)

"Mrs. Aakhus... look that one guy was a unibrow."

Most of the students liked the girl from the B52s.

I tried to explain that this song is ironic.


This song's title comes from an old Chinese propaganda poster "Shiny Happy People' REM used this slogan as their song after Tiananmen Square in 1989.

Now, I just have to explain what happened in Tiananmen Square.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

My day of the Arts

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After the fabulous win of our fabulous Fosston girl, I brought the other student to Stephen, Mn where he competed with his schoolmates in One Act Plays. I had only been in the car for five hours at that point, but after I dropped him off, I figured I needed to go home and see Jbird and the girls. This was my life being torn between my the students at school and my family at home. I realized I needed to be at home. I missed them.

I drove home listening to whatever station I wanted to and thought about students and their dreams. I thought about my daughters and their dreams.

I thought about my dreams and how they've all come true.

Poetry Out Loud - That girl is going to STATE!!!

It ended up I was in charge of bringing our young hopefuls to the regional contest. I left Jbird in charge of the children and headed out to Fosston to pick up the suburban. I was excited because not only was I going to bring the students for Poetry Out Loud, but I was now a MINI BUS DRIVER. Hello! AMAZING! *All week I prepared for this event by making sure I was a legal MINI BUS DRIVER.* I am now able to legally transport your students in mini van, suburban, or MINI BUS - or the short bus as we used to call it when I was a kid.

As I approached the bus barn, I felt tingly because I was driving a car nicer than my minivan. I started the suburban and scraped the windows to be sure we had a secure view on our drive. I drove the suburban to the high school and round up the school champions. I took the key out and ran into the school to get a bottle of water. You know- because I DON"T drink much Diet Coke anymore.

We buckled ourselves in. I put the key in. The suburban started. The suburban stopped. Was it in park? Yes it was. I couldn't figure it out. I ran back into the school where we (Fosston) were hosting an elementary basketball tournament. This had never happened before.

What to do?

What to do?

I looked at my young innocents faces.

"Did any of you drive here?"

"I did, but I can't drive my car to Bemidji." One student offered.

"That's O.K." I said wiping the sweat off my brow. "We will take my 1998 Chrysler Mini Van.... But we'll need you to get us to the bus barn."

We squished ourselves into his little pickup... *uh hmmmm... yeah.* and reached my mini van. It was still warm. Off we flew.... onward to Bemidji State University.- Our destination.

We giggled along the way and hooped and hollered when we reached dips and bumps... "YEE HAW!" That was field trip Mrs. Aakhus style.

When we reached Bemdji, I found the building. I just didn't know how to get to it. Where to park? The kids were nervous to search on their own. They needed me. I found a place somewhere in the middle of a construction site. And we ran. Ran like the wind I'm telling you.

I told them the name of the building. "Hobson Memorial Something," and we ran from building to building looking for the place to be.

Finally, we found the building. We ran inside. There were signs pointing the way.

POETRY OUT LOUD it stated by a stair case. OK... but were we supposed to go up or down?

One student went up. One went down. We found our way out a door. The sign pointed to another building? Our eager student ran ahead.


We found it.

We were where we were supposed to be.

The students checked in while I visited with the organizers. I could have hugged them. I was so thrilled to be there. I found out the emcee for the morning was none other than Will Weaver. Hello! AMAZING ZING ZING.

I sat in the back seat. I was just as nervous for the program to start as the kids.

And it began.

All of the students were amazing. The poems came alive for me. Again... I was impressed. Will Weaver was extraordinary. He made sure to note that the day was about these students' accomplishments and not about his. Impressive....

Poem after poem I was dazzled, but I can't lie to you. I'm biased. I had a feeling that one of my students would win. And she did. The cheerleader. The volleyball player. The goofiest member of the senior class. Also, one of the classiest kids I've ever met. I held hands with her mom in the back row. When we realized she was the winner, we hugged and cried.

That girl is going to state.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Poetry- its AMAZING

The School's Night of Poetry Out Loud was phenomenal. Magical. Delightful. Or to use the new word of 2009 "Amazing.." Not as though it's a new word, but it seems to be THE word for us.

I was the prompter judge. I sat in the front row and watched to see if they needed help. The kids rarely needed help.

I'm glad I wasn't one of the 'big time judges' I never would have been able to judge my students knowing what I know about them. I would have marked them all EXCELLENT. I would have marked them all AMAZING.

What surprised me the most was their support of each other. The bond all of the kids had for each other. The general atmosphere of respect. The general atmosphere of AMAZEMENT at each others' talents. Their cheering knocked my socks off.

In particular, I was dazzled by their hearts on their sleeves. They put it out their with guts. They went in front of the room and showed a part of themselves deep, innocent, and fresh.