3rd-graders flock to Frank's "Crazy January" events


Village News — Jan. 28, 1999

Students at La Jolla Elementary are finding it hard to stay away from school even those who may have flu and whose parents are telling them they should be home in bed. This is because of a motivational initiative they are calling "Crazy January."

Third grade teacher Holly Frank assigned an imaginative theme to every school day of this month. She and her class then attend school dressed for the theme of the day. Jan. 11, for instance, was "Inside Out Day." Jan. 12 was "Western Day" and so on.

Book reports and other parts of the regular curriculum now follow the theme. "Silly Sock Day," for example, was used as a basis for journal writing. On "Native American Day" they read from native American books and talked about different cultures.

According to Frank the idea was to make going back to school a little bit easier after the two-week Christmas vacation. Frank said, "The reason I began doing this crazy January was to create an excitement about school and learning. These students are 8 and 9 years old, and many have 15 more years of schooling ahead of them. If they aren't eager to attend school at this age, when will they be?"

"I had one (student) last week who was sick and wanted to come in her native American costume," Frank said. "So her mother brought her, and then took her home. I had one yesterday, in his hockey uniform, who was sick and his mother took him back home."

"How many of you have come to school this month even when you were sick?," Frank asked her 21 students -- of whom many were dressed in leis and straw hats on Jan. 21 (Hawaiian Day). Six hands rose in reply.

Do they get teased by students in the other grades? Of course they do. Do they care? Not a bit! "That's the fun part," said one boy. "Seeing how jealous they are." The third grade has grown accustomed to having other students drop by to look.

"They go out from my class totally uninhibited," said Frank, resplendent in grass skirt and floral lei.

To promote reading and literacy, Jan. 22 was "Favorite Book Character Day;" and the entire school was invited to participate dressed as their favorite book character. Frank said, "I've not invited the entire school before but I decided to because everybody seemed so interested in what we're doing."

On Friday, being the last school day of the month, there will be a reunion for all her former students and they are invited to join the class in the afternoon for a "pajama party" celebration and a movie. "My brother goes to junior high and he's coming back to the pajama party with his robe on," said one girl.

Frank, who came originally from Buffalo, New York, was a Basic Skills teacher at La Jolla Elementary for nine years before she began teaching third or fourth grade here five years ago. "It makes it fun to come to work when you get a group like this," she said, casting a fond smile back towards her class.