It’s bee season again – Bodacious Bee, that is – that quirky time of year when local adults indulge their silly sides … and their competitive streaks. In just a couple of weeks, on Saturday, March 10th, the Bristol Warren Education Foundation (BWEF) will present the 4th annual Bodacious Bee, a spelling bee for adults and their biggest fundraiser of the year. The buzz around town is this is a party you don’t want to miss, a see-and-be-seen soiree where the guests wear crazy costumes instead of cocktail dresses, and there’s always a surprise or two in store. Teams have been formed, and participants are furtively finishing their costumes and practicing their spelling. Just last week hints were revealed as press releases were circulated – a “royal” event has been planned. I imagine there will be a Queen Bee, then, and perhaps a parade of ostentatious hats? You’ll have to attend to satisfy your curiosity; individual tickets cost $50, a table of 8 costs $350, doors open at 6pm and dinner is included. Visit the BWEF website for more details.
Having gone last year, I can attest it really is a fun night, especially if you go with a group of friends! And of course, the best part is knowing that you’re contributing to enriching the education of our community’s children. Proceeds from this event will support BWEF Enrichment Grants for Educational Excellence. Last year the education foundation was able to award over $33,000 in grants to local educators from all six public schools in our district, funding innovative projects across a range of disciplines. One such grant, “A Bridge Across Cultures”, was a joint effort between Colt Andrews library educator Harriet Lapointe and Guiteras library educator Nicole Galipeau. Designed to encourage elementary students to “develop an understanding of another culture and relate to the common threads between Chinese and American culture”, the culmination of the project was an author visit in January of this year, when Grace Lin, author of the Newbery Honor Book Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, traveled to Bristol to talk with the students at Guiteras School and Colt Andrews School.
from the Bristol Phoenix (1/19/12): “Author Breathes Life into her Fiction”
I got the chance to see this grant in action when I was invited to attend the author’s presentation at Colt Andrews School. In the months leading up to the author visit, students participated in a multifaceted exploration of China, during which 5th graders researched various aspects of Chinese culture and created visual projects ranging from posters to relief maps to Powerpoint presentations.
Classroom teachers also enthusiastically supported the grant project, Mrs. Lapointe says, by reading Ms. Lin’s award-winning novel in class for several weeks, ensuring that every 5th grader would experience the story. The second grade also participated in the program, and many of the 2nd graders had read Ms. Lin’s books, either in class or on their own, before the author visit.
Visit Grace Lin’s website to learn more about the many books she’s written.
At the presentation the young students were captivated, and the author connected easily with the children when she talked about her childhood in upstate New York and her visits to Taiwan as an adult. They seemed to especially enjoy hearing about the first story she ever wrote (in the third grade, she won third prize in a story-writing contest), and they appreciated seeing the photos from her visits to Taiwan that inspired some of the illustrations in Where the Mountain Meets the Moon. There was a noticeable absence of fidgeting, and no bored expressions or awkward silences. The students were entranced by Ms. Lin, and when it came time for audience questions, most every hand shot into the air.
Along with several questions specific to Ms. Lin’s books, here are some glimpses into the students’ minds from the question-and-answer session:
“Do you enjoy the writing part more, or the drawing part, of writing your books?”
“Was it hard growing up as a Chinese-American girl? Were kids mean to you?”
“Are your picture books based on your life?”
“What was your favorite fairytale when you were growing up?”
“Do you do a lot of traveling to talk about your books?”
The author even stayed to autograph copies of her book for her young fans. I confess I was so impressed with her presentation that I bought a copy of Where the Mountain Meets the Moon on the spot for my family, and waited in line to have it autographed. I am equally impressed by, and grateful to, Mrs. Lapointe and Ms. Galipeau, for making the extra effort to seek this grant, because these are the learning experiences that stay with you when you’re a child navigating your school years, and these are exactly the kind of learning experiences I want for my children. And now’s the time to seize the chance to support the innovative, hardworking educators who are devising ways to enrich our children’s education in the coming year, by reserving your tickets to the 4th annual Bodacious Bee and supporting the Bristol Warren Education Foundation in its endeavors throughout the year!
“It is not enough to simply teach children to read; we have to give them something worth reading. Something that will stretch their imaginations- something that will help them make sense of their own lives and encourage them to reach out toward people whose lives are quite different from their own.” ―Katherine Paterson