Saturday, October 27, 2012

Travel Honor Roll Party

You are invited to the Fall 2012 Honor Roll Excursion.
Please check in at the Lott Municipal School Airport 
at 6:00 p.m. on Friday, October the 26th.  
You will need to bring one suitcase.  
Inside your suitcase please bring 
a pair of sunglasses and a hat suitable 
for sightseeing. 
Bon Voyage!

This past weekend we had our first honor roll party of the year -- the Travel Honor Roll Party.  We got the idea from wonderful Wanda, the cook at Shenandoah Institute of Music and Art.  She was a teacher at Terre Hill Mennonite School in Pennsylvania, and she has some great ideas.  
First of all, we put the invitations on their desks the day after report cards were given out.   We got travel-themed paper and travel stickers at Hobby Lobby.  We also used this paper for the luggage tags.   

The evening of the party, they arrived and were told by the flight attendants (teachers) to form a line outside the check-in area.  We had “Lott Luxury Airlines” signs on the doors and on the check-in podium (one of our teaching podiums).  While they were waiting in line we put luggage tags on their suitcases and thanked them for choosing our airline.  We also asked them what their destination was.  None of them knew where they were going.     

Lott Luxury Airlines

Once all of the travelers had arrived, we opened the door and let them check in.  Each student was given a ticket which had his or her name, seat assignment, and boarding group printed on it.

Lott Luxury Airlines

Passenger: Amy Kauffman  Class:  FIRST CLASS
Destination:  SURPRISE
Ticket Number:   39847370958934897
Boarding Group Number:   3 Gate:  41A
Seat Number   2C

     Next, the students had to go through security.  They had to remove their shoes and put them in bins which were x-rayed by a laptop.  They were also instructed to place their luggage  on the table where it could be scanned.  Three random passengers had their bags searched and assured us that there was nothing dangerous inside. 

After going through security the passengers waiting in the waiting area.  There were plenty of tracts there for them to read.  
We had a helpful dad set up the microphone system and one of the flight attendants announced pre-boarding instructions.  Then they boarded by group number and were instructed to find their seats (we had put 1A, 1B etc. on the ends of the pews) and to stow their carry-ons securely beneath their seats as there was no overhead compartment room left.    

(I know this isn’t a great picture, but I wanted to have an example of what we call “Stonehenge”.  We set eight foot tables up on end, then clamp or tape large pieces of fabric or 8’ x 100’ black landscaping plastic onto the fronts of the tables.  One side looks really great.  This was at the back of the plane anyway and we were all facing forward.)

Once they were all seated our pilot (principal) arrived a little late just like the real pilots always do, talking on his cell phone with his black bags strung over his shoulder.  

Passengers were instructed to turn off all electronic devices, and then watched a pre-recorded “safety” video which our pilot and one of the 2nd graders had made.  

For take-off we all leaned back in our seats.  
The first stop was in the Caribbean Islands.  (We had planned to do this outside with a bonfire, but alas, not twenty-four hours before our party began a cold front came in.  We improvised and strung lights and leis around the room, then stuck the tiki torches inside our school plants.  We did NOT light them as we would have outside, because we had previously learned that if you light tiki torches inside, your ceiling and the inside of your nose will turn a lovely black color.)  So, we quickly moved all of the furniture out of the 3rd-6th grade room into the 1st and 2nd grade room.  

Before exiting the plane, each passenger was instructed to open his or her suitcase and to remove the hat and sunglasses which they were told to bring.   Then, they were instructed to exchange hats and sunglasses with their seat partners and put them on. 

Upon exiting the plane each young lady was given a tropical flower to put in her hair.  

Once we were actually in the “Caribbean”, we took pictures of each pair of seat partners.   We actually found a CD of a steel drum band playing hymns and had that playing.  They then were served fruit kabobs and a pineapple-coconut punch.   Lots of fruit and punch ended up all over the floor but we had fun mopping it up-- both times.  
A 10th grader wearing a 1st grader's hat, and a 1st grader with a Robin Hood hat.  
Passengers once again picked up their luggage and we headed back onto the plane.   Once we took off, the flight attendants served drinks and a choice of peanuts or pretzels from a little cart on wheels.  Trash was collected in the same manner before landing.  We landed, leaning far back at first and then far forward when the pilot put on the brakes.  
The next stop was Italy, where the passengers were served salad, bread, and anti-pasto (cheese cubes and pepperoni).  We had some Italian opera music playing to get them in the mood for our next game...... Battle of the Opera.  (We got this idea from Rosemary Eberly, which she got from the book “99 Musical Games”.   Another bonus of attending SIMA--fun people and fun games, along with some great music theory, sight-singing, and music history.)   

Two ladie and two gentlemen 8th grade or older volunteered, and THEN we told them what they had volunteered for.  They were given a topic on the spot, then had to sing for thirty seconds about why their topic was better than their opponent’s.  The teachers demonstrated by singing (at the same time) why playing the French horn was better than spinning a flag, and vice versa.  After this demonstration, the girls sang about their respective backgrounds, one from an Amish background, and the other from a Russian Mennonite background.

  The boys had to sing about their favorite interests-- one, an avid jet enthusiast, had to sing about why it was better to be a pilot, and the other, a pianist, why being a musician was better than flying a plane.  They all got a little prize for playing.  


By the way, we believe that you must have Viking hats for opera.  We got these at a party store, along with the chef hats. 

We all got back on the “plane” and took off once again.  Once we had “taken off” we played a guessing game about where the next stop would be.  We didn’t give the winner his prize until we arrived in... France.  

Four round tables were set up bistro-style.  I had sewn a French flag from colored sheets we got at a thrift store.  We had classical music by Debussy (an impressionistic French composer) playing.  Each patron was given their own personal bottle of Sprite, and then the helpers served panini sandwiches with chips and a pickle.  They were delicious.  (It is a challenge sometimes to come up with foods that both 1st and 10th graders will enjoy.)  


For the game in France (we wanted to have some sort of activity in each “country”), we had them get in groups of equal number based on where they were seated.  They were told to make an “Eiffel Tower” by stacking their luggage as high as they could.  Some had nice, hard suitcases which worked well, while some of the girls with the polka-dot little carry-ons that didn’t do so great.  The boys won this one with a stack eight and a half feet tall (we counted the extended handle at the top) and they all got a little prize.  


The flight attendant then announced that we were late for our next flight and we all grabbed our stacked luggage and ran for the “plane”.  Once we were all safely seated we took off again, which by this time we were getting really good at doing.  (Every flight had announcements about storing your luggage, etc., just like a real flight.)  Shortly after take-off the captain announced that the air pressure in the cabin was low and the flight attendants passed out oxygen masks.  No one suffered any long-term side effects, but we did get some funny pictures. 

After landing at our next “destination”, we once more disembarked the plane, making sure that we had collected all items from under our seats and overhead compartments.  

The last stop on the excursion was Berlin, Germany where we heard a concert by the "Berlin Philharmonic", which was really our principal (an ex-symphony musician) play a Mozart horn concerto along with a recording of an orchestra.   After the concert there was a reception where the passengers were served mini cheesecakes and Hershey kisses.   

After taking pictures with the guest soloist, we played our traditional post-honor roll party game, kick-the-can.  It was extra fun this night, because we had a large metal can leftover from the pineapple chunks from the fruit kabobs in the Caribbean, a large bonfire to keep us warm in the cold, and because the luggage stacked up alongside the school house was a great place to hide in and then run out and kick the can while the “it” was looking around the building.  

To see more honor roll parties click HERE.

Post Script
Yes, it took a lot of time and planning, but it was so well worth it.  These special, enjoyable evenings are a wonderful time of togetherness.  For our school, these are probably the most special evenings, second only (maybe) to the programs where we share songs and what we’ve worked on so far in the year with family and church members.  Here is how we plan and pull it all together.

First, the teachers meet, have dinner together, discuss different ideas, and choose one.  Then, we write down specific ideas for clothing, food, music, and anything else we can think of.   Next we ask two couples to help us.  Usually these are school board members or parents.  Then we meet with them and discuss what we’d like to do.  We usually do most of the decorations and event planning, while they are in charge of the food end of things.  We each make a detailed list of the schedule of events, what is needed for each one, and who is responsible for getting what is needed.  By the way, we always do all these meeting with two things:  food and secrecy.  The sharing of a meal just makes meetings more enjoyable and fun, and the secrecy creates anticipation for the students.  Only when they get their invitations will they have a hint (maybe) of what we’re up to.

The next step is for us to head up to our attic, where we have two bins of costumes, one of hats, and two of “honor roll party stuff” (lights, greenery, vases, candle holders etc.).    After this we see what we still need, like for this one we needed a pilot’s hat and flight attendant jackets.  The lady teachers headed to thrift stores, Hobby Lobby and the grocery stores the Friday evening before the party to gather up what we could.  The parent helpers did their own shopping and prepared what food they could ahead of time.  We talk a day or so before to make sure we’ve got everything we need, and the day of the event we have a detailed list of the order of events and what to do for each step of the evening.  When it’s over, we all clean up.  The students usually love to help us with this, and as usual, many hands make light burdens.