A Tribute to Ms Kivett’s Advanced English Class

Today, Wed the 4th, I was asked to visit Ms. Kivett’s 3-5th grade English class at Shenandoah Elementary School.  My sister also teaches there.  Ms. Kivett wanted her students to write a short story and thought that a world-renown author would be great for them to share with.  Since none was available, she asked me.

She and I talked about a half-hour before her class returned and collaborated on how to, at least, try and do things.  I was to talk about myself, why I write and how I figure out what to write about.  I was nervous, but looking very forward to having some time in front of a class again.

I got to talk for nearly half an hour and they were as inquisitive and honest as I remembered.  They asked questions about everything and ate up the answers.  I loved that.  It reminded me of the great conversations I used to have when teaching.   Groups of children can be an absolute dream to talk to (or a nightmare!).

I suggested that, when they try their story, they pick out about 5 short sentences that tell what happened, then lengthen those to make their story.  Here is what we came up with for the short version:

Nick got up.

Nick shut off his alarm.

Nick got dressed.

Nick ate.

Nick went to McDonald’s.

Then, we decided to lengthen the last sentence.  They came up with:

Nick went to the McDonald’s in Anderson to get food and a Monopoly ticket.

We did some sharing as to what could happen to make it a surprise ending and they wanted him to win a car.  Then, we decided that if he won the car from a ticket he found on the floor that would be more of a surprise.

I told them that if they spent all that time lengthening the other four sentences they would have a story.  So, as a tribute to the Shenandoah 3rd-5th grade advanced English class taught by Ms. Kivett, I would like to try and write a short story from the above to show them what might be done.  I hope Ms. Kivett reads this and decides to read it to her students.  They are my inspiration here.

_________________

“I’m Lovin ‘ It”

Nick Snowman began his eighteenth year of life by waking from a good dream to the excruciating noise of his cheap alarm clock.  He knew the noise would continue for a full hour and he did not want to lose his hearing over trying for a few extra minutes’ sleep.  The alarm ceased its blaring buzzing as it hit the floor.  Nick’s aim was not so good when first awakened, so his hand had swept the table instead of pressing the button.

He got up and began putting the items back on the night stand.  The crimson read out on the clock still shown so he figured he had not broken it this time.  He was a little pleased that he would not have to purchase a third one this year.

Dressing was a chore for Nick because he would have to find a set of clothes that not only matched, but were clean.  He had promised his mother he would begin learning to live on his own by keeping his room clean and his clothes washed.  He had not managed either yet.

Breakfast consisted of three eggs, some toast with jelly (grape, of course), and 3 links of sausage.  His mom still cooked for him, though she reminded him he would be on his own next year.  He smiled at her, as always, and said how he would manage somehow.  She always smiled back, but said she was not sure how he would accomplish that task at his current rate.

Nick stepped out into the sunlight, the July day starting out warm and bright.  He walked over to his vehicle and opened the door.  The ’97 Buick had been given to him by his Aunt Millie when she had passed.  It was not the best car in the world, but it was all that he had.  At the current rate, it was all he would have, too.  Three weeks after getting the car, Nick had swerved to miss a child on a trike and “touched” bumpers with “Snake” Emmons, member of the Pythons, a mean-spirited gang in his school.  They did not really break any big laws, but would beat you up if they felt like it.

Snake had yelled at Nick and kicked his headlight in.  He might have done more, but his own car did not have a scratch on it.  The next morning Nick went out to find all his tires flattened and the side window smashed.  He knew what had happened, but did not tell the police.  Instead, he spent all his savings fixing the car, so, now; he did not have any money to put toward getting another car.

Nick drove to Anderson and pulled into a parking spot under the golden arches of his favorite restaurant.  He knew he had just eaten, but a large coke and a large fries would get him two of the Monopoly tickets he was collecting.   He did not hold out much for the million dollar prize, but hoped he might win something other than just more fries.

Emma Jenkins was at the counter.  He thought she was pretty and planned to ask her out someday.  Right now, money was an issue.  She smiled at Nick, took his order, and put some extra fries on his tray.  Yep, he really should ask her out.

As he stepped away from the counter, Nick dropped a quarter he had gotten in change.  He sat the tray back up and bent over to retrieve the coin.  Next to the quarter, he saw a Monopoly ticket.  He picked it up with the coin and found a table where he could sit and eat.

He was almost finished with his fries and had opened the two Monopoly tickets when he remembered the one he had found.  He opened it up and stared at the ticket.  It said he had won a brand-new car!  Nick read and reread the ticket’s contents several times.  He could not yell or jump or anything.  He was simply awe-struck.  This was nearly crazy.  So, he did the next crazy thing he could think of:  he jumped up, went to the counter, and asked Emma out on Friday.

She smiled and nodded with obvious happiness.  They set up their plans and Nick decided that this day was not turning out so bad after all.

_________________________________

Not a huge surprise ending, but it is solid and has all the parts of a good story, I think.

Ms. Kivett, if you do read this story to your class, ask them what they think about it.  Tell them that I hope I get to read their stories when they are done.

Namaste,

Scott

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