Mrs. Larson and once-in-a-lifetime Water Festival
Elementary school for me was different than most people I've talked to. For some reason I did more and tried a greater variety of activities at a young age.
When I look back, I can remember something about each grade at Rossman Elementary that's as vivid as yesterday.
I still remember the night before my first day of kindergarten (well actually, it might have been three nights before), at the time I didn't know the difference, I was so excited I couldn't sleep.)
I remember my Kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Brunsberg, who happened to make home videos of what went on in the classroom. She gave each of us a copy of the tape at the end of the year, which my friend still happens to have.
Every once in a while we'll dig that tape up and watch ourselves at age five (which honestly is a laugh and a half).
In fourth grade I got lucky enough to get Mrs. Larson as my teacher. The unique thing Mrs. Larson was known for was putting on the annual water festival over at the tech college.
Basically we made six different groups of four throughout the class, and each of us would pick a topic related to water (for example, my group was wetlands, but a few other categories were city pipes and wells, grasslands, lakes and rivers, etc.).
What Mrs. Larson did was she started us on the water festival the last quarter of school.
We covered all of the required subjects through working on the festival (except math, which was separate) and once we each had a category we got mentors.
My wetlands group was mentored by two guys named Scott Kahn and Todd Lucas from the DNR.
We went on multiple fieldtrips, made different projects and eventually started on our presentation for the actual event at the tech school.
There was a certain competitiveness that went towards that as well. Mrs. Larson told us that two groups would be specially chosen to present in Nebraska, or St. Paul in June of that summer.
Our ultimate goal was to get to go to Nebraska, and we worked harder on that project than anything else I've probably ever done in my life (as hard as it might seem to believe). When the presentation day came at the tech, our group was ready and presented pretty fluently (especially for fourth graders). A clip of our group presenting was on the six o'clock news that night (which we thought was the coolest thing ever).
After we got done presenting for the whole day, everyone met in the auditorium for a conclusion ceremony, in which it was announced our group (the wetlands group) would be getting to present in St. Paul that June (which was probably one of my biggest accomplishments at that young age).
We presented in June, which didn't go as well because we were missing a group member (the end result was I butchered his part of the presentation because I only had a day to try to memorize it) but it was an "epic" fail, and we had fun.
After multiple years of the festival, the one I was a part of ended up being the last one. Mrs. Larson wasn't able to do it the following year, and she retired the year after that (my sixth grade year) but it was an experience that turned out to be once in a lifetime.