Thursday, March 10, 2011


Aqueducts 2011

It's Aqueducts Time again!

Yup, it's that time of year when I bring out the IVs and saline bags and let my students explore the physics of Roman plumbing. Which means my classroom looked like this:

Aqueducts 2011

And I kept thinking "Come on, Principal! Come on, Superintendent! Someone come by for a surprise observation!" To no avail, dang it.

Aqueducts 2011

It's a good lesson plan, though. I can tell since 1) two different office aides/former Humanities students came by my room during the period to deliver notes and both exclaimed on entering, "Aqueducts! Awesome! I remember those!" and 2) a current student who also has me for drama declared during that class' check-in, "I'm Bridget and I'm good today and YOU ALL SHOULD TAKE HUMANITIES BECAUSE IT"S AWESOME AND YOU SEE THOSE WET SPOTS ALL OVER THE FLOOR? THAT'S FROM AQUEDUCTS!"

Aqueducts 2011

So, yeah, it was a good day. Even at rehearsal, where the leads don't know all their lines and everyone's stumbling over the addition of the live band and the microphones aren't working, even amidst all the stress and frustrations of this part of the run we're still laughing as a group and the mood's surprisingly upbeat. We wrapped up the run with about a half-hour left, so I decided to teach bows today and save us that time tomorrow.

I explained the plan, and the kids cried, "NO! It's not Friday! You can't!"

I was tickled that they had been listening when I told them earlier in the week that practicing bows prior to dress rehearsals is bad luck. "Eh, it'll be fine. I'm not that superstitious."

"NOOO!" They cried, smiling. "Don't curse us!"

"Yeah, well, you know what else? Macbeth."

"Aauugghh!" cried the ones who have taken drama with me. "Go outside! Undo it!"

(I did undo it for them, after we ran the bows.)

The biggest laugh of the day came when, in the middle of a scene, I heard a gaggle of students behind me in the house. I turned to see what was going on, and found a group who were trying (and failing) to hold in their giggles as they said over and over, "It's stuck!"

"What's stuck?" I asked, trying to keep an ear on the scene on stage at the same time.

The group parted to reveal our Pigpen. He sheepishly held out his hand. He had apparently been messing around with the kite bobbins backstage and, well...

Aqueducts 2011

(and anyone who has any experience with 9th grade boys will not be at all surprised to see which finger it's stuck on)

"I can't get it off!" he said.

Being the responsible adult in the room, I first took a picture on my cell phone, then I tried twisting and pulling on the tube. It wasn't budging a millimeter; and, judging by the redness of his knuckle, he had been trying to do the same for a while before confessing to me.

"Should I get some scissors?" an eager student asked.

"No," I said. The tube is made of thick cardboard, and besides, it is a prop. We need that tube. Instead, I took Pigpen by the wrist. "Come with me," I said, pulling him up on stage and to the bathroom in the wings. The gaggle followed closely behind.

Sadly, the soap in the school bathrooms is the foamy kind. I tried anyway, greasing up his finger and the tube. No luck.

"Scissors?" the eager student asked again.

"Not yet." I wiped down Pigpen's hand and led him into my office. The gaggle followed closely behind.

"String..." I said, looking around. "I need some string." The gaggle immediately started tearing apart my office. One girl triumphantly held up a piece of yarn.

"Excellent," I said. "Thank you." I then tried a variation of the string trick, but it really doesn't work on a tube that long.

"Awww..." moaned the gaggle in disappointment when the tube didn't budge.

"That's okay," I said. "There's still one more thing we can try."


"Nope." I took Pigpen's wrist again and held up his hand. "Sorry about this, Chris, but it works best." And with that, I licked his finger.

"Ewww!" cried the gaggle.

"Yeah, I know," I said, "but saliva's nice and slimy." I swiped my finger in my mouth and coated his finger again. Then, with just a little wiggling, I slid the tube off his finger.

"Yay!" The gaggle cried.

"Shh!" I shushed, smiling. "Quiet backstage."

"Yay!" The gaggle whispered.

"Now go wash your hand," I told the still-stunned Pigpen as I headed back to the front of house to get back to the scene and to rinse out my mouth.

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