Highland Terrace Elementary

Trip Start Mar 01, 2012
Trip End Mar 31, 2014

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Flag of United States  , Washington
Thursday, June 14, 2012

Linda Burton posting from Shoreline, Washington – Rockets bursting in air. I was sure that's what I heard as I emerged from the tall fir trees at the 4-way stop. Rockets, and cheers. It was the 6th graders rocket show taking place on the playing field at Highland Terrace Elementary; I continued to the parking lot by the office door. An Orca whale on a sign directed me to the checkin place. "Look who’s behind you," the office secretary said, “they can direct you to Kayla’s room.”  I turned around to the sight of four smiling girls, my granddaughter Kayla, and her classmates Sam (Samantha L), Mantha (Samantha R) and Sophia, ready to help with set up (once they had explained their names). One of them took my bag of notes; another took the tripod; they were missing recess and the rocket show, but didn’t seem to mind. Desktops were cleared, the postcards and brochures I’d brought about “capitols” were artfully arranged for classmates to see, the US map was pulled down, the projector was on. We were ready.

I am visiting Mrs Donovan’s 4th grade class today, a group of 24 boys and girls who live in the Pacific Northwest and attend public school in Shoreline, Washington, just north of Seattle. The room is spacious and pleasant, overlooking the playing field and the fir trees beyond; today we have gray skies and a chilly June breeze. Kids file in from recess and rocket time; take their seats; Kayla is invited to introduce me to the class. Call me GMom today too, I offer.

They already knew about the Journey; I added in the part about the cats – big Happy Jack and tiny Crabby Tabby Alex; I explained about the route; I told them about the car. Outside!! Grab a jacket or two, head for the parking lot and the Scion. Teachers are good at getting students into position; Mrs Donovan arranged the group; look serious! Okay, now a crazy shot! They walked around the car, checked out the map on the back. “That’s the one I learned!” “I’ve been there!” “Where are the cats?”

Back inside, I pointed to my pictures of capitols on the wall as I laser-lighted the route on the big US map. Austin, Phoenix, Sacramento, Carson City, Salt Lake City, Boise, Salem; Honolulu next. They knew Kayla was joining me for that; missing her last week of school; commissioned to keep a journal of everything she saw; her impressions; what she learned of Honolulu, a capital city.

“This is where I am today,” I pointed out, “just finishing Salem and heading for Honolulu as you are finishing 4th grade. Where will I be next year when you are finishing 5th?” They studied the schedule, looking for the line by 2013 June. “Indianapolis!” “Columbus” We looked at those cities on the map. “And when I am finished with the Journey, and in Washington DC, what will you be doing?” Finishing 6th grade. An awesome perspective.

The Schedule Sheet had statistics about Shoreline as well as the 50 capital cities; how many are about the same size as Shoreline, population 53,007? Santa Fe! Olympia! Cheyenne! Charleston! Which capital city is biggest? Phoenix! Which capital city is southernmost? Honolulu! Each student had learned a capital city to tell me, we went around the room. They told special things they’d learned; they knew about the open-air capitol in Honolulu, no dome like the 7 capitols I’ve already visited. “Show us a picture from the 50 Capitols” book, I was asked, and so I did. Promises for sending back a message – how does it feel inside that open space? Kayla and I were commissioned to visit the Arizona Memorial in Honolulu; to swim with dolphins.

I wish I could have stayed all day. But the clock on the wall showed time for the School Patrol to don their vests; a teacher’s meeting scheduled next; parents in cars waited outside. One last shot of the students that remained, and then goodbye. Thank you Mrs Donovan, and all the students in the 4th grade class at Highland Terrace Elementary. I hope you love your country just a little bit more today. And I promise, I will write a book for you!
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