FARMINGTON – With graduations across the region last weekend, many elementary classrooms celebrated their own achievements, gathering to honor the occasion.
The teachers of the fourth grade remote learning class of Cascade Brook School met their students in person at Meeting House park to have their own celebration on Thursday. When students arrived to drop off books and iPads, they were surprised with popsicles, sidewalk chalk and an opportunity to share their nature journals and decorate t-shirts for all their classmates to sign.
“I’m a very serious person— no joking around,” said Patty Murray, a fourth grade teacher who came out of retirement to help teach remotely. “I wanted to have a culminating activity to help with bringing community together.”
The fourth graders kept nature journals through the school year, and the journals were a place to reflect activities and assignments and chronicle their journey with remote learning. They kept track of their lessons in science, social studies, health and their virtual field trips with the Chewonki Foundation. The concept was inspired by Sarah Carlson, another retiree who wanted to help.
“The nature journals were a way for the students to have something tangible,” Carlson said.
The newly graduated fourth graders ran around Meeting House park playing and laughing together between eating popsicles and signing one another’s t-shirts. When asked about the friendships and connections of the students chatting together, they didn’t miss a beat, according to Carlson.
“They’ve been like this all year; they supported each other,” Carlson said. “These kids have been astounding to work with. They have risen to the occasion over and over again. It’s been such a rewarding year.”
Much of the laughter was surrounding a fun classroom joke that came out of a bit of fun encouragement. Student Maragaret Bremner explained.
“Mrs. Murray has a clapping sound maker, and every time the whole class got something right, she’d turn on the clappers,” Bremner said. “She said they were real, but we knew they weren’t.”
During the fun and excitement, Bremner created the “anti-clappers” club and recruited members before the festivities were over. The club members also continued to joke with Murray about the legitimacy of the clappers.
Carlson reflected on the laughter and community developed within the remote classroom.
“This is why we do it,” Carlson said.
Signalling a group photo, Carlson ended proceedings with a brief address to the students.
“I just wanted to tell you all that we loved being your teachers.”