Friday, October 30, 2009

The 85 Babies

"No, I can't blog right now. I'm taking care of 85 babies, and it's been just a bit tiring for me."

You've heard me talk about the Reflections program in my Daybook blogs for the past two months. Forty years ago, the National PTA put together a program for students with a bent toward arts and literature. Reflections is a theme-based competition, affording students the opportunity to express themselves through their arts medium of choice.

I love this, of course. Encouraging kids to be creative--bring it on!! I couldn't wait to be chairperson. I always thought that the whole program at our school needed a bit of a promotional boost and definitely needed an element that would allow it to linger past the closing ceremonies. And, earlier this spring, I was up to that challenge.

Now, I'm taking care of 85 babies.

There were 85 entries into the program this year. (There were 51 entries last year.) And they're all at my house now. (Well, except for about 40 photography entries that I had to leave with a professional studio photographer who's doing some judging this weekend.)

Still, I haven't felt this much stress over anything in a long time--logging in entries, coding them for student privacy, tabulating results and dealing with the rules (and the not-so-understanding parents on the other end). I wish the position were just about admiring these wonderful creations and sharing the judges' feedback with these young creators, to encourage their growth. What seemed like such a right fit for me back in the spring is now reminding me (yet again) that administrative stuff just isn't my strongest suit.

But, I have these 85 babies....

It's amazing what five and six year olds see in a theme like "Beauty is...." And it's amazing to read how an "upperclassman" captures the essence of a beautiful person with words. There are so many marvelous colors in these works, textures. Vibrancy. Love.

And I'm feeling perhaps just a wee small bit like God felt upon gazing at His amazing creation. The sheer delight of having made something--something good!

85 something goods....

Next week, I will finalize the award tallies and prepare the logo artwork for the winners' medallions and participants' certificates. In a few weeks, we'll transform the cafeteria into a museum, opening the doors for others to experience the joy that I have known with these 85 babies. Then, some entries will move forward to the county finals and some will return home to their creators--but not before I capture all of them in a book for the library...for posterity and future classes of creators.

Though I will not miss the administrative headaches, the meticulous caring for details and the tabulations of the final expenses, that I was caretaker of 85 babies--85 endeavors to "make something"--will remain a treasured time. A glimpse into the minds of some creative kids. Encouragement that pursuit of arts and literature lives on.


Kelly Combs said...

Well, your title certainly grabbed me. I was thinking, hmmm, John & Kate plus 8, OctoMom, now what? I'm glad that your reality was artwork/lit/photos.

How wonderful a gift you are giving all these kids. We would make a great team, as I love the administrative side of things, but not so much the creative. Maybe that's why we are good together? Synergy. :-)

Good luck on your wonderful project! Enjoy the "museum" piece of it. Take photos and make us a slide show, if that's allowed. Would love to see it!

Edie said...

Oh Sue J I'm so excited I'm ready to grab my jacket and run right over to help you out. I love EVERYTHING about this project!! Including the admin part. How fun! I would love to see all those little creations of "Beauty". I'm looking forward to pictures. Yay for you for taking this on and being such encouragement to these little ones.

KelliGirl said...

Sue J,
What an awesome project! One that you're tailor made for. So glad it finally came your way.

Some of those children may look back at this event as a turning point in their creative lives. Maybe they found encouragement or support...or a new way to express their creativity. Art is so much more than coloring inside the lines or drawing a pretty picture, it's finding way to express visually the voice we hear internally.

I'm proud of you and your good work.

twinsplusone said...

Oh Sue! I just love the Reflections was something I encouraged my students to participate in every year when I was a teacher! So glad you have put your spin on it and encouraged so many entries; that is awesome! I know that you will spend time cherishing each entry, which is what these kids deserve. Way to go--and let me know if you need any help! :)