Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Day Before The Independence Day Celebration

This pep rally was held on Thursday, September 10, the day before the big Independence Day celebration. All of High School, students and teachers alike, are divided into colors, our team; competitions are held between the colors. Despite being all in white, my team color is black. It isn't that I forgot, but I needed to be in white for the little drama that was planned next.
A teacher is given the added responsibility of planning school-wide events. This year that brave and exhausted person, Daniel Calona, is a member of the Spanish Department. This pep rally, which included cheering nonsensically, a play and a competition to determine which color knew its history best, were his doing.
Here am I with my big hat and shawl trying to look like a Spanish lady living in El Salvador with my husband, on my left, a Spanish landowner, and our overseer on my right. We reenacted the cruel Spanish ownership of the indigenous laborer and the brave Spanish priests who acted to free the indigenous people by compelling the landowners to sign papers of independence
A better shot of me! An interesting question: Why was I chosen to play this role? The answer is that the Salvadorans desperately did not want to take the roles of the Spanish. So they handed the roles to two foreign teachers and Gilberto, a Salvadoran, who knew that no foreigner could do the role of the conquered Spaniard justice. Unfortunately I do not have a shot of the others in the Spanish Department playing the roles of the oppressed indigenous or the brave priests.

Independence Day Celebration at Escuela Americana

September 15 is El Salvador's Day of Independence from Spain. On Friday, September 11 the Grades 3-12 filled the bleachers in the gym. To add to the thousand four hundred students and hundred of teachers, there were parents of seniors. The ceremony starts with the top three senior male students and the top three female students marching around the gym carrying the flag. Behind them follows the top six Grade Eleven students to whom the flag will be passed at the end of the ceremony. This makes more sense in public schools where this is the end of their school year. Then there are speeches made by dignitaries and patriotic essays read by students.
The rest of the seniors come in folkloric costume. This is a pose with Mr. Erazo, Dean of Teachers, father of one of the marching seniors, the recipient of the most acclaimed teacher award, and a wonderful individual.
Then the seniors dance. Since there are 116 seniors, 110 dancing, they are divided into three groups, each with a different folkloric dance to perform. They practised for weeks!
The choreographer is a man named Arturo who is an assistant in the High School library.
The fellow with the pointed hat weaves amongst the dancers - he is a sort of clown. They were magnificent. This ceremony is very impressive, often gives me goose bumps.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Mary's Classroom with Her Students

This is my Journalism Class, levels I and II. Really there are too many students in this elective for it to be truly effective. I realize that many teachers deal with more than 18 students but...
This is my Grade 11 English Class, 16 students total. American literature is the subject of this class. We've just finished a unit on short stories. Great fun. I arrange the stories from earliest to most recent , so from Benjamin Franklin to Stephen King. We don't have time to hit all the American short story writers, especially considering that it was in the USA that the short story truly came into its own, but we read samples from each century. This week we start a new unit: The Narrative of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave. Again we will be following history as we explore various genres.
This is one of my AP Literature and Composition classes. I have 13 students in this class and...
... this is the other AP class. Again 13 students. All are in Grade 12. We are studying British Literature, starting with Shakespeare's Macbeth. Along with the study of this major work, we look at poetry-John Donne, Marlowe and Raleigh, and sonnets-Shakespeare, Spenser and Sidney, and madrigals. Right now we are on Act V. They've written sonnets, which I have not marked yet, will memorize a soliloquy to present to the class along with an analysis of it, and write an essay test before we are through. The year did not start with Macbeth, it started with a study of two dystopias: Brave New World and 1984. The thought is, as we follow literature through history, we will try to determine how we came to these two scenarios of despair for human civilization.
Next weekend I hope to post photos of the Independence Day celebration held in the gym. It was really quite spectacular. I remembered my camera, unusual for me, took one photo and ran out of battery. A friend plans to send me copies that she took. We'll see.