Today was the final day of my Louisiana Story Fest residency. The above is a drawing by Ivan, a first grader, of my story, “The Cajun Cornbread Boy.” The gator in the middle has a red mouth, full of cayenne!
I stayed up late Thursday night assembling treat bags for my third, fourth and fifth grade performers, for those who performed without a script. Along with an autographed picture of me, third and fourth graders received “medals” while fifth graders received friendship bracelets. I also made little teacher treat bags. In addition, I put together a goody bag to raffle off to the teachers at the end of the day. Here is a picture of the teacher, Ms. K, a second grade teacher, who won the bag full of treats, including my CDs. The funny thing was that she was the one who gave me the giant card and had her class write letters to me yesterday. I told her she must have good karma!
When I arrived at the school in the morning, I set out four boxes of Krispy Kreme donuts for the teachers. Then I stuffed their mail boxes with the treat bags I prepared. Finally, it was off to set up the video camera in the cafeteria (with the help of the librarian) and make final preparations for the performances (setting up the stage, doing a mic check, preparing the props, and finalizing the lineup).
The first group of students to perform was third grade. There were a large number of parents who attended and I was so pleased. Three third grade performed for the pre-school classes. In all the excitement, I neglected to take pictures of my first two third grade classes. They did an awesome job!! Two of my third grade classes performed completely without scripts. Not only did the students earn their treat bags, their teachers were given one of my CDs as a reward for the class. This is a picture of my last third grade class performing “Petite Pouce and His Dogs.” What a delight to see these students shine on stage. And to think, they did it in less than three class periods!
After third grade, the two fifth grade classes performed for the kindergarten classes. Both of my fifth grade classes performed without their scripts. They were so good that the kindergarten classes began participating and singing with them. The little ones laughed in all the right places. I was so proud of my students and overjoyed that the kindergarteners enjoyed the performances so much. This is a picture of me with Jada, one of my fifth grade students. She was the leader of the chorus and created the melody that the girls sang in “Jean Sotte (Foolish John).” The boys rapped while the girls sang. It was phenomenal. I met Jada’s mother who told me that she was a Gospel singer. No wonder Jada is so talented!
After lunch, fourth grade performed. While some of the students performed with their scripts in their hands, it was still fun. The fourth grade students performed for first and second grade. One of the first grade classes delivered letters to me at the end of the day. They had such wonderful things to say about the fourth graders.
“Dear Ms. Dianne, I liked when you said ‘trip trap’ and the fourth grade. Love, Dwyn”
“Dear Ms. Dianne, I liked when you came in our class and singed (sic) stories. And I like when she told stories in the cafeteria. And I liked the fourth graders. Love, Shaniya” Shaniya even included a lovely picture.
“Dear Ms. Dianne, I enjoyed the songs and I am so happy that the fourth graders said, ‘skitter skitter skat – we’ll find our way back, just like that. Word. Love, Kathleen”
Other letters I enjoyed from my first graders:
“Dear Ms. Dianne, I really liked the play and I hope you come back. I had so much fun with the scarf and the tape. I almost forgot! You really sing like an angel. I’ve never heard anyone sing that good and thanks for sharing. Love, Ronique”
“Dear Ms. Dianne, I love the plays and when you went to the classroom. It was funny when you shaked (sic) my head real fast. It was so funny when you said, ‘roach.’ That was the best day of my life. Love, Justin” This is Justin’s drawing of my story, “Madame Poule’ and Monsieur Roach (Mrs. Chicken and Mr. Roach).”
“Dear Ms. Dianne, I like how you look. How can you look pretty? How do you look so pretty? And I like your stories and your stories are so cool. And I learned about your stories. Love, Makayla”
As a parting gift, the school gave me a wonderful book called 212: The Extra Degree by S.L. Parker. The book is so simple but has such a profound message: “At 211 degrees, water is hot. At 212 degrees, it boils. And with boiling water, comes steam. And with steam, you can power a train.” The premise of the book is that if you apply the “extra degree,” you can make a difference and accomplish great things. Everyone should read the book! This is the inscription inside the book:
“To Dianne de Las Casas, CS school’s faculty and students would like to thank you for applying one extra degree that really makes a difference. You are really hot! With love, the Faculty and Students of CS School”
I had the best time at this school. Several of the teachers said they would love to have me permanently on staff. It was such a privilege to become a part of this school “family.” I loved all the teachers, staff and students. It was an unforgettable experience, one that I will always carry in my heart. I love you, faculty, staff and students at CS School!
Until I write again, may you laugh, love, and live each day to its fullest. Happy Weekend!