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Education column: Students mark season with projects

This time of year, Christmas is simmering across the district, and schools are filled with color, sound and goodies, too.

The Arts Academy at Bella Vista did a spectacular job with their now famous “Nutcracker” — a visual and musical delight, as always.

Cameo Elementary’s third and fourth grade classes performed a special program about an elf who was a little unusual and experienced the growing pains of learning about acceptance and fitting in even when you’re different.

The corridors of La Casita Elementary are still bursting at the seams with eye-popping, 3-D decorated walls. Every hall chose a different Christmas book to celebrate, and each class then created their own 3-D illustrations. One hall had scenes from “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” another celebrated “The Legend of the Poinsettia” by Tomie dePaola and another chose “The Polar Express.”

A particularly special group of miniature carolers paid a visit to the Clovis Schools’ Central Office and, afterwards, the Student Support Center down the street. Lincoln Jackson Family Center’s group of 4-year-olds — 224, to be exact — came calling with their own adorable version of Christmas cheer, singing carols with their tiny voices, accompanied by bells they’d made themselves.

Even Clovis High School, nearing finals week, had some interesting Christmas offerings.

Keith Ingram’s speech classes were practicing their final exam project, a speech about something to do with Christmas. These kids came up with some great material, and I was surprised and impressed by their levels of confidence as they practiced their speeches.

They’ve spent the semester doing sometimes four or five speeches a week, I learned; pretty ambitious, especially for high school students.

Ingram explained, “We chip away at fear. You can’t do anything if you’re afraid.”

The kids told me about also conducting job interviews during the semester. A couple of students shared that when they went for an actual job interview, the exact same questions were asked, and they felt prepared. Apparently, of the 15 or so students in this speech class who have applied for jobs locally, there has not been a single one who was not hired.

Another highlight was the opportunity to view rehearsals for Ingram’s beginning drama class, whose final exam was to write and perform an original play about Christmas. Students were divided into groups, and they had to come up with an original script, do the blocking, set and perform.

After Ingram’s charge of “the only boundary is imagination and courage,” students came up with some remarkable creations. One in particular, about a teenager named Kris Kringle, charmingly illustrated the origins of Santa Claus. It turned out so well, in fact, that Ingram believes it is quite likely publishable.

And I thought finals were supposed to be dreaded.

Calvin Coolidge once said, “Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind.” Ah, if only we could bottle that Christmas spirit and take a sip from time to time throughout the year.

Cindy Kleyn-Kennedy is the Instructional Technology Coordinator for the Clovis Municipal Schools and can be reached at [email protected]