–by David Schleck
“I’m excited to see what my monster looks like,” Nathan Chadwick said.
“Me, too,” Javier Ruizsantos said.
Months ago these students drew pictures of a make believe character during art class. They gave their monster a name, a favorite food and habitat, and then sent the information to Independent Living students at Renaissance Academy. The high-schoolers honed their sewing skills to create huggable stuffies based on the younger children’s descriptions. And students at Larkspur Middle School wrote adventure stories for each monster.
The three groups of students recently met at Three Oaks to celebrate their creations. Each monster was placed inside a gift bag, along with the monster’s story and other goodies.
Renaissance Academy teacher Elaine Lombardi counted down from three, and the elementary students reached into their bags and got their first look at monsters in three dimensions.
They hugged their stuffies, thanked the Renaissance students for their hard work and chatted with the Larkspur students about their monsters’ personalities.
“This is awesome!” second-grader Maxton Tylke said, holding his monster “Jerry” in his arms.
Larkspur Middle eighth grader Hope McLain spoke with Javier about his monster’s backstory, which had caves and golden hamburgers and all sorts of twists and turns.
Larkspur teacher Rachel Smith said the exercise gave her English 8 students a chance to try something different.
“They love creative writing,” she said.
A grant from the Virginia Beach Education Foundation supported the program. Three Oaks teachers Jodi Strack, Andrea Eisenberger and Deborah
Fuge gave it rave reviews. Seeing students collaborate across grade levels is very rewarding, Lombardi said.
“I want other teachers to know how they can make their lessons come alive in this way,” she said.