St. Mary’s School
Notes: Test-induced stupor and more
By Kathy Ayette
I am one happy woman. As of today all my students have completed their
IOWA and CogAt tests. Most of the schoolwide testing was during the
second week of March. However during any scheduled testing it’s a sure
bet that sickness will spread throughout the school. There will always
be a few students who need to make up tests before the turn-in
deadline. I have to tell you that I find administering standardized
tests a lot like watching paint dry, just not as exciting. With the
younger students, most of the questions are read to them. The questions
tend to be repetitive and after a while you find your mind gets fuzzy
and your tongue clumsy. I believe that is test induced stupor. And even
though the testing session is only two hours a day, you can forget
about really teaching anything the rest of the day. Believe me after
two hours of testing my students’ brains were exhausted. Now don’t get
me wrong, I recognize the value of the tests in determining not only my
students’ strengths and weaknesses, but our curriculum’s strengths and
weaknesses. It’s a necessary evil like eating all your brussels
The eighth grade’s annual book fair was held from March 6 to March 12.
My students were eager little shoppers. They thoroughly enjoyed leaving
class every day to go shopping for books. I had to admire the eighth
graders’ patience in dealing with my little shoppers. My students did a
great job spending their money down to the last cent. There was a nice
selection of books for all ages. As a grandma, I found books for my
grandchildren, including the one who is just about ready to be born.
(When Grandma’s a teacher, and her school has a book fair, you are
going to get a book!) The final day of the book fair was also the St.
Patrick’s Day Pancake Breakfast. Once again, Chris Cakes were featured.
The unique thing about Christ Cakes is not the pancakes themselves, but
their delivery. The pancakes are not handed to you, but thrown. (You
can opt to have an eighth grader stand in for you.) I am proud to say
that I caught all three of my pancakes, thus earning an “Alright, Mrs.
Ayette!” from the eighth graders. Oh yeah, I still have it!
This month the student council is sponsoring a “Pennies for Patients”
contest. Each student was given a container in which to put loose
change. The money collected goes to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society
to fight blood cancer affecting children. March 28 is the day that all
money is due. The class that raises the most money will be treated to a
pizza party. Noting the name of the campaign, one of my students asked
if it was okay to put other kinds of money besides pennies in the box,
you know, like dollars. I assured her it was.
Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, was on March 1. Students and
teachers started the holy season by attending Mass and receiving ashes.
Each Friday during Lent, the eighth graders will lead the school in the
Stations, or Way of the Cross. This prayer service is a way of
remembering Jesus’ passion and death. The following comes under the
heading of “Out of the Mouths of Babes”.
I really like decorating my classroom. Of course the first couple of
months are rather easy, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. January
doesn’t have quite the obvious theme. I had the children make paper
snowflakes and give some of them a dusting of glitter. When I hung them
up, something was missing, so I had the children color and cut out
penguins, mittens and sleds which I hung up amid the snowflakes. When
February rolled around I was a little busy so I just put up some hearts
along with the snowflakes and pictures.
Every year I have a special Lenten project with my class. We make
Lenten crosses. On the back of the crosses, the children write what
sacrifice they intend to do during Lent. The crosses are hung up around
the room. In order to hang up the crosses I removed all the decorations
around the room including the snowmen hanging from the ceiling. The
next day I asked the children what was different about the room. I
expected and got answers like, a new responsorial psalm posted and the
cloth behind the Bible was now purple. What I didn’t expect was this
answer...the room was a lot plainer. As I looked around, and realized
my student was correct, I was struck by how appropriate the room was
for Lent, a time to remove the distractions from life to focus on our
relationship with God. Have a blessed, undistracted Lent.