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The Slow Roll

We are exactly eight days into the school year and I have finally found my kids’ lunch bags. This may not seem like a monumental achievement but I slow roll into September. Some folks actually read those “It’s August! Let’s Talk about School!” emails. I don’t. I don’t read them in August. It’s nothing personal. It’s not a manifesto or anything. It’s just that in August, September feels REALLY far away. And I always say, “Oh, I’ll mark it unread and go through them later.” The flaw in that reasoning is that I won’t be able to find them in September. So I don’t read those. By April, I manage to submit everyone’s vaccination records, but not in September. No. September is a blur of activity involving little bags of goldfish, alarm clocks making that horrid sound, leaking water bottles, and those “don’t make us kick you out of school” contracts that my kids sign in colored pencil (because those look so much more official than crayon).

But not everyone slow rolls into the school year. The PTO storms September like the Normans rolling into England. You might ask: When are school pictures at KES? Done! Like, a week ago. Fundraising for all the 5th grade activities in June (June!), starts now at the Back to School Picnic with tables of 5th graders selling pizza, watermelon, and even claiming a cut of the ice cream truck’s haul. Well played, 5th graders. Well played. And the coupon books sold by the PTO every year? That fundraiser is already under way.

Every event that will happen this year is already in the thick of planning with Parent-Generals leading the march for the Halloween Fair, the Classroom Parents, the After School Activities, those wonderful photo filled Yearbooks, all the Assemblies and Field Trips, and every other PTO sponsored event.

Am I the only one oblivious to the leaves which have started to turn autumnal? Everyone else seems armed and ready to attack the school year. They have lists of things that need to be done. I bet they read those August emails.

As a slow roller I took my place at the helium tank for the Back to School Picnic with two huge bags of purple and white balloons while packs of volunteers spread out tablecloths and displayed perfectly sliced watermelon. They were making popcorn and selling pizza. I, however, was in the custodian’s closet filling balloons so my daughter and her friend could run through the plaza giving out balloons like benevolent despots currying favor. Slow rollers sometimes get stuck in dusty corners.

I stood in my closet and tried to tell my daughter about the oddity of using a naturally occurring element to fill balloons but she was more concerned with orders. “Purple with white string!” “White with pink string!” “Mom! Come on! Faster!”

And then as if the cosmic enforcer was telling me something, my tank ran out of helium. No more balloons. The kids would have to suffice with the 70 or so already tied to every post, railing, bike rack, and table. And I, the slow roller, would have to roll out of my dusty closet and face what I had been unable to accept.

Summer’s over. This is the start of the school year. It’s wake up time.

I cleaned up the balloons, the string, and the scissors. I put them away in the storage closet for next year. I shut the light in the custodian’s closet and pulled the door shut.

Bravely, I rolled towards the clouds of parents and kids milling about on the playground and in the plaza. And I chatted with people I hadn’t seen in months. We talked about things parents talk about (i.e., weird charges from our kids’ cafeteria accounts) and as the evening wore on, I got chilly. My cut offs and tank top didn’t feel right anymore. I wanted to go home and get my sweatpants and my favorite yellow sweatshirt. I wanted to make soup.

I ran into a friend of mine who was taking pictures for the Yearbook. (The Yearbook?!) And another friend who asked if I was eager for next year’s Picnic. (Next year?!) “I’m a slow roller,” I wanted to explain, “I’m not ready for this year’s Picnic and it’s already half over.”

I turned myself around and around on the playground, trying to find my daughter in the swirling mob of children. “Where is she?” I thought. “Has anyone seen my daughter?” I asked.

A friend of mine walked past and said, “Nope. Haven’t seen her but, hey, I’ll see you at Curriculum Night.”

Curriculum Night? When is that? Is that another thing in those August emails I didn’t read?

My daughter ran full sprint right past me while playing tag and eating a snow cone but I was scrolling through my emails. “Hey, wait!” I yelled as she zoomed past me. “I need to talk to you!”

Ah! There! Ok. Curriculum night is, like, in a couple of days. When’s Curriculum Night for my other kids? OMG. I bet I’m in charge of snack one day soon. I should check on that. Did I ever send in those forms? Do I have to do that volunteer survey thing? What about their Girl Scout Troops? When do flu shots start? Is that soon? Have I been sleeping? Why have I not read any of my emails? All of a sudden I finally realized it is now September and at some point, my slow roll through summer brought me to a dead stop.

My daughter ran past again. “Hey! We have to go!” I yelled. “I’ve got to get my life together! And I’m cold. And it’s September. I have to read the emails! It’s time!” I yelled after her.

She looked back surprised. “It’s still summer. Why are you rushing this?”

After I arrived home, I received an email from the PTO asking for photos from the Picnic to be submitted for the Yearbook. And another PTO email advertised the 5th Grade Car Wash to benefit the fund for their end of year trip.

I’m happy to report I read those emails. I’m on a roll.

 

 

  • Anne Foray
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82 5th Graders = 1 Variety Show

 

The KES Class of 2017 & KLSD Class of 2024

Life gets fun when individual talents can be used to create something completely original and much larger than one person. Because everyone has a talent necessary to the performance, we all have a part to play. Particularly in a Variety Show.

Some talents are obvious. The ability to sing, dance, or make someone laugh. The ability to play an instrument or perform acts of physical daring-do. A wicked sense of humor, a musical ear, the guts to stand up alone and sing into a microphone, deadpan comedic timing are oases of fun in the endless desert of everyday life.

On the way to last Friday’s 5th Grade Variety Show, my daughter (a 5th grader) and I talked about the number of artists it takes to create the image of one artist. “Mom, do you know how much work goes into creating a ‘pop star’?” Before working on the Variety Show she never really thought about it but her experiences over the past month got her thinking. “So, when Katy Perry or any other singer is singing, we’re really watching the work of a thousand of other artists who are circling behind the stage creating the dances, scenery, wardrobes, makeup, and everything else that makes Katy Perry, the performer.”

We talked about Broadway musicals where before the acclaimed performers even step on the stage, the costumes, staging, lighting, musical accompaniment are performed multiple times a day at a level that is deservedly, world renowned.

As your hand holds a microphone, your stagehand hoists the curtain.

The kids at this year’s 5th Grade Variety Show delivered a wonderful mélange of performances, all of which showcased their theatrical and comedic talents. These kids rocked it. Some kids managed to pull off synchronized swimming on a stage. Two girls delivered a beat poet worthy performance of Red Fish, Blue Fish, complete with drums and a hoola hoop. Piano solos, choreographed dances, costumes, Hamilton, enough cow bell to delight Christopher Walken: this Variety show had it all.

The performers deserve kudos for taking the time and energy to learn, rehearse, and hone their acts and then perform them for a packed gymnasium of families, friends, and classmates. That’s a level of gravitas that must be applauded.

And behind the stage a different performance was delivered. The kids who sat in darkness, wearing black so as to not be seen, silently crept about working the lighting, ropes, organizing props, and microphones. Armed with mini flashlights and exacting natures, these kids happily followed directions, one by one, each step necessary to complete the marathon of Variety Show performance. If all the world’s a stage, the players back stage set the world in motion.

The performers behind the stage worked in synchronicity with the on stage performers to create a tangible piece of art for the KES community. It was quite remarkable.

For the final number, all the 5th graders wore the same t-shirt and sang that song We Go Together from Grease.

But the most astonishing aspect of the performance was one that played out in the cafeteria during the show. And it wasn’t a performance at all.

Backstage, every 5th grader was given a t-shirt to wear during the finale. Because each t-shirt was ordered specifically for each child, each t-shirt had the kid’s name on the tag and on the freezer bag in which it was stored. The t-shirts were organized by teacher and each classroom was organized alphabetically. [Esther Strnad should win an award called Award for Best Ordering and Organizing.]  As each act came off the stage, the players were given their t-shirts. All empty plastic bags were kept in alphabetical order and the kids were told that after the final act, all shirts must come back to be refolded and re-bagged, to be worn again on their class trip to Chelsea Piers.

I spent Act 2 in the cafeteria obsessively organizing t-shirts. And I watched nearly all of the 82 KES 5th graders, boys and girls, filled with adrenaline and nervous energy snack on pretzels, chat with their classmates, flip water bottles, occasionally spit into the fan to see what would happen, congratulate, and high five each other. They encouraged each other, delivered constructive criticism in the most polite manner, and were, surprisingly, together. Towards the end, the backstagers came running along for their t-shirts and excitedly joined their classmates. It wasn’t an Upstairs, Downstairs situation. It wasn’t divided. They were remarkably united.

That song from Grease is mostly gibberish, containing only a handful of coherent lyrics.

But those lyrics are fitting for this year’s 5th Grade Variety Show:

We go together, remembered forever, that’s the way it should be, yeah.

We’re one of a kind, our names are signed, we’ll always be like one.

We’re for each other, just like my brother, we’ll always be together.

– Anne Foray

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May Faculty & Staff Question of The Month

One of the most well known traditions in our town is the Katonah Fire Department Parade & Carnival. We are hoping this month’s faculty and staff blog question will get everyone excited for it.

 

What are YOUR favorite carnival/parade memories?

 

Having been in the Katonah Fire Department for 10 years I have quite a few memories. My favorite thing about the carnival is the food. The cheeseburgers with onions is the best thing on the menu. I worked in the Crazy Cat booth and watching people try the Oreo Challenge was always a good source of entertainment.

Patrick Vetere, 2nd Grade Teacher

When I first moved to Katonah I invited my parents to the Katonah Fire Department Parade.  My father was a Bronx boy and had never been to a small town parade like this. He loved it all!!

Enid Linden, Reading Interventionist

I remember the anticipation of the town carnival opening. After all the waiting, meeting up with friends, going on the rides and playing the games was so energizing. I  loved when one of us won a game where we got a HUGE stuffed animal to walk around with. The best part was when my mom decided I was old enough to go on my own without a grown-up!

Ms. Fulton, Social Worker

As a child, I loved waiting at the bottom of Valley Road for the clowns to come down in their little clown cars to hand out lollipops.  My friends and I would get so excited.  I’m so happy this tradition continues every year in Katonah.  And I love that my own children are able to share in the fun!

Kim Buckley, 2nd Grade Teacher

My favorite carnival memories are joining my students on all the fun rides- spinning upside-down, sideways and round and round!

Lynn Garofolo, 3rd Grade Teacher

 

-Samantha Holcman

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