Wilde Kingdom

I don't much like taking field trips. I never worry about my students' physical and mental health until I look at them scattered through the bus and think, "If one of them gets hurt, I am sooo getting sued."

But, today, I went on a field trip. SPOILER: No one died (yay!)

The 12th grade English teachers decided to take their classes downtown to see The Importance of Being Earnest (traditionally, seniors study British literature at RHS). Since my theater classes read the play every year, I asked if they could go along. And then I asked if I could go along, so I could have a day off too because I thought it would expand my cultural and educational horizons.

So early this morning, 141 students and chaperones spread ourselves out over four buses, and we headed into The Metropolis, the city that has the second highest murder rate in the entire United States. My bus was relatively quiet, as it held only my seven non-senior theater students and Kay's five dual-enrollment (taking senior English for college credit) students.

There was a significant difference between these two groups, as pointed out by one of my observant little babies: "They're all nerds up there, playing the license plate game, and we're back here gossiping."

Sadly, this was true. Kay's group made it through the alphabet twice during our forty minute drive, and my group dissected and analyzed Jessica Simpson's "friendship" with John Mayer (conclusion: no one's a winner in that relationship).

When we got to the theater, five of my seven kids fought each other to sit in the seat next to mine, and then they all filed quietly into the same row and sat down, even though I told them they could sit somewhere else if they wanted to. I can't help it if they love me.

There were about five other schools there, though ours had the largest number in attendance. I tried not to think about the ghosts in the theater, about whom I'd been told--in great detail--by another of my students; apparently there is a Mean Man Ghost in the balcony Ladies' Room. Naturally, thinking about how much I did not want to go to the bathroom made me have to, in fact, go to the bathroom (I went to the main floor; no ghosts).

The play began, and can I say, I love this play? I mean it; Oscar Wilde can put a spin on words that is unbelievably fantastic. I will break down the acting like this:
Algernon - played by Bertie Wooster
Jack - played by Mr. Tumnus
Lady Bracknell - played by Mrs. R, my high school keyboarding teacher
Gwendolen - played by Lolly (well, she looked like her, anyway)
Cecily - played by Rachel Dratch
Lane - played by Black Adder
(I could totally be a theater critic).

During the play I only had to wake up one person and tell one other person to stop talking. I think this is extraordinary, and I would like to know how to make it happen in my classroom.

Upon exiting the theater (no ghost-sightings), we headed over to a very famous restaurant, where we sat in the reserved section and had ourselves a leisurely lunch, as opposed to our regular twenty-five minute VaccuumFest.

We had to go through an alley to get back to the buses, and we saw a homeless man lying next to a wall.

Now, Randomville is kind of a small place, and it's fairly protected, in that we have minimal amounts of crime and little, if any, (known) homelessness. So a homeless guy ... that was yet another educational moment our kids had today: over one hundred people, crammed into a small space, with (truth be told) a pretty ripe, and possibly mentally-challenged, vagrant.

I watched the students, to see their reactions. And I stood, awed, as I watched one after another--kids who would not give their own mothers 35 cents to make a phone call--walk over to this stranger and gently put dollar bills in his hands. It made me proud, that they would see a need and, instead of exploiting it (as they would if he'd been one of their fellow students), they satisfied it. I don't know why I was surprised; our kids have consistently shown themselves to be capable of rising to the occasion. But I was impressed, and humbled, and touched.

And then on the way home one of my kids sang a song with fart noises.

So ... pretty much: the usual.

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