HUNT COLUMN: Merry and Bright

Published 10:30 am Wednesday, December 21, 2022

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By Cathy Hunt
Troup County Board Chairwoman

This weekend on my Facebook news feed I was treated to a fun video entitled “Our Principelf is Better Than Your Principelf.” It featured Long Cane Elementary School principal Katie Brown dressed as the ubiquitous “Elf on the Shelf” as she positioned herself at various locations around the school (atop filing cabinets, the book vending machine, kitchen equipment) for the students to stumble upon as they moved around the building. She was frozen in place, staring into space and not cracking a smile or moving a muscle. The kids were delighted, even “speechless” according to one little girl. 

Is there time for frivolity as our staff and students press on toward end-of-the-year achievement goals and tests? My answer would be a resounding “YES!” Not only should merriment at school be allowed, but it should also be required. That’s not to say that teachers and administrators should knock themselves out to make education entertaining and “FUN!!” on a daily basis, but if children can’t find smiles and joy at school, they’re not likely be excited about coming, and ultimately we’ll lose those who find nothing but stress and seriousness there.

The best educators are ones who can find that balance between serious learning and smiling/ laughing/ singing/ dancing, etc. It’s quite possible to learn while singing. Remember Schoolhouse Rock? 

Intrigued by the Principelf, I embarked on a Facebook tour of our schools to see what other special activities kids were enjoying at this time of year. Dress up days were everywhere from the elementary schools right on up through the high schools: ugly holiday sweater day, Christmas socks day, and the ever-popular pajama day. There were visits from Santa and Mrs. Claus and even the Grinch. At Hillcrest, students made a project out of trying to convince the Grinch that reading is fun.

There were door decorating contests, videos of staff and guests reading Christmas stories to the kids, singalongs, and concerts featuring band, chorus, and strings. And there were class parties with yummy things to eat. I enjoyed holiday party days when I was in elementary school. Didn’t you?

But in the midst of the jolly good fun, there was commitment to excellence too. Hogansville Elementary sent their students home with Reading Bingo cards so that they’d remember to read during the holidays. Prizes will be bestowed on those who complete the challenge. There were drives to collect warm clothes for those in need. There was evidence of staff donating presents to help children have a happier Christmas than they might otherwise have. 

Examine your clearest memories from your school days. I’ll bet that in most cases they involve events outside of the everyday tasks. My earliest memory of first grade was participating in the Christmas program as a “Shopper.” My group dressed in coats and scarves and carried bags and boxes while singing “We are going Christmas shopping, and it really keeps us hopping!” In my last years of teaching, a highlight right before Christmas was when the administration at THS brought around carts laden with scrumptious food and drink to treat the teachers during exam week. Facebook tells me that the tradition carries on.

Last week at the board meeting, a group of singers from Callaway Elementary treated us to a peppy rendition of “Cold Snap.” It was fun and memorable for the kids and the board members.

So let’s always treat kids to merriment in the midst of helping them become bright. All God’s creatures love to play. Merry Christmas!