Tuesday, November 24, 2015


I've been a teacher a long, long time.

The first few years I taught, I was sometimes a little surprised (ok, sometimes shocked) by the stories my students would tell me. And I was also a little surprised by the stories they went home and told their parents. It wasn't too long before I began using that standard line, "I won't believe everything your kids tell me at school, if you don't believe everything they tell you at home." I've gotten a lot of mileage out of the line over the years.

This week was one of those times.

Atticus is a first grader at my school. Several weeks ago, he came to school and told his class that Uncle Ben's Rice was having a "Beginner Cooking Contest" and he had entered his specialty, Atticus' Hawaiian Rice. He and his mom had made a video and sent it in.  If they were one of the top five contestants, our hundred year old school was going to win a $30,000 cafeteria makeover.

Atticus wanted his classmates to see his video. And so they did. I know they did because my office is between the two first grade classrooms and I walked in just as they were finishing.

"Dr Carol," exclaimed Atticus. "You missed my video!" He was more than a little sad.

"Maybe we could watch it again?" suggested one of his classmates.

"Yeah!" Everyone cheered enthusiastically.

His teacher, Kathy, said that the video was only a couple of minutes long. If I had time, we could, in fact, watch the video. I did have a few minutes, and so we watched the video again. Later on, she showed the video to first graders in the other class, because our classes spend part of their day in mixed language classes and most of them also know Atticus.

And then there was more big news.

"Guess what, Dr. Carol??" said O, as I walked into the room.

"Your brother was born?" I guessed, knowing that O's mom is due to have a baby any day.

"No!" Emmanuel shouted. I was a little surprised at the crowd that was gathering, given that I make numerous trips throughout the classroom every day, and we have trained the kids to simply smile and wave.

I guessed again. "There's a new Mo Willems book?"


By this time the entire class had pretty much stopped and Kathy had joined the crowd.

"Atticus, do you want to tell Dr. Carol your big news???"

Atticus leapt into the air.

"I made the semi-finals," he shouts. "My recipe made it to the semi-finals!"

His leap was so cute that Kathy made him do his leap again while she videotaped it, so she could show it to his mom.

His classmates were ecstatic and we had to open up the web page of semi-finalists and watch the video all over again. Several children told me their families had made the recipe. Others say they are going to try it soon.

Over the last ten days, the excitement about Atticus' Hawaiian Rice has spread throughout the school. It's been on our school Facebook page. Fliers have gone home in our last two Thursday folders, reminding people to vote. Our middle schoolers have taken up the cause, logging onto every single computer on the second floor and voting for Atticus every day. It's become kind of a school cause.

About a week ago, we learned that Atticus and his recipe were going to be on GOOD MORNING COLORADO on Monday morning.  Once again, the first graders were thrilled. We are out of school this week, but Kathy sent home a flyer on bright turquoise paper, reminding people to watch the show and vote for Atticus. I put the flyer on my refrigerator, so I would remember to watch.

On Monday morning, Atticus was on television. He was as cute as could be, all dressed up in a dress shirt and bowtie, and did a great job walking  the show's hostess through his recipe.

There was, however, one really funny glitch.

At one point, the hostess remarked that it was so great that Atticus was in the contest, and she hoped he would win the cafeteria for his school. "Do you think any of your classmates know that you are in this contest?" the hostess queried.

Atticus had to think for a minute. "Ummm, I'm not too sure. We haven't  really talked about it that much." I almost fell onto the floor. Atticus and his Hawaiian Rice are ALL we have talked about for the last few weeks.

I couldn't wait to talk Kathy.

"He was probably nervous," she said. "Maybe he just forgot how much we have talked about it."

I can't wait to get back to school to talk to Atticus and ask him about it.

In the meantime, maybe some of you could vote for Atticus' Hawaiian Rice. You can vote here once a day for the next five days. You can watch Atticus on GOOD DAY COLORADO here. 

It's really important that we ramp up some extra support because no one in our school knows about the contest!


Linda B said...

Of course I'll vote, Carol, & hope that you share on FB if it's okay to do so. How funny about his remark. I imagine he was very nervous. Best wishes!

Jackie said...

I voted! I do hope he wins! That is quite an accomplishment to follow through with his idea. What an uplifting post to read. I can't believe he is only in the first grade. I will vote every day and keep my fingers crossed. Jackie

Beverley Baird said...

I voted - of course! Atticus definitely has a future in TV. What a delightful video. Hope he wins!Thanks for sharing that delightful story - loved it. Loved Atticus!