Several weeks ago, one of the school secretaries stuck her head in the choir room just as Becca and I were starting to teach the Musical class.
“The principal needs to see you,” she said.
Becca and I looked at each other. “Now?”
“Both of us?”
“But what about…” I gestured to the class of 64 kids in front of us.
“I’ll stay in here and keep an eye on them.”
Becca and I shrugged, mystified. “Okay,” we said.
And yet when we got to the office, the principal was nowhere to be found. We asked her secretary. She said that the principal was in a meeting. “Are we supposed to go in?” we asked. Nope.
And so we hung out near the conference room for a while until one of our students found us.
“You can come back now,” she said.
We did. The kids were acting very nonchalant in that kid way that is so very chalant, but Becca and I decided to play along and ignore it.
A few weeks later, it happened again. This time there was no sham “principal wants to see you” message. The secretary just asked us to step into the hallway for a few minutes.
By the fourth time this happened, Becca and I were no closer to having a clue what was up other than our certainty that the cast was planning… something. It seemed to be a good something since the secretary was apparently fine helping them out with the “secrecy.” Perhaps a post-show gift?
Then yesterday one of the students emailed Becca, Rachel (who is choreographing the show for us again this year) (YAY!!!!), and me. “Are you free on May 14th at 7:30 PM?” she asked.
Now I was confounded. What in the world were they planning that needed us to be free on an evening three months from now? That’s well after the show is over and certainly not during the school day. Seriously. What. The. Crap are they doing?
We all responded that we were free, but heard nothing more.
That is, until we were starting class today and the secretary stuck her head in the door. “The counselor needs to talk to you.”
“All of us?” I asked, since Rachel was there for a dance day too.
“All of you,” she said.
We headed into the hallway and made to linger outside the classroom door. The secretary stuck her head out of the classroom.
“No, really,” she said, “You need to go talk to the counselor.”
So we did. Sarah beckoned us into her office, gestured for us to take seats, and said, “Okay, now I’m keeping you occupied for a while.”
Not really, though. We chatted, she kept on with her tasks for the afternoon, and we watched the clock and struck from the list task after task we wanted to do with the class today.
About ten minutes later, the counselor checked in the hallway and said that we could go back to class now. When we returned, it was to an almost empty room. There were 8 kids standing in the back in a cluster, nervously greeting us, giving each other serious side-eyes, but not explaining. To further the mystery, one of the students now appeared in the doorway and was filming us on her cell phone.
Finally the secretary took some pity on them and stepped in to help. “They have a scavenger hunt for you to do!” she said. “Here’s the first clue!”
We took the envelope from her and read the “riddle” inside. The clue directed us to the choir room, exactly where we were standing. We looked up from the paper at the group of kids.
“Look!” they exclaimed, holding out another envelope. “Here’s clue #2!”
And so we followed the clues around the school, enjoying how the giggles and “shhhhs” and quick blurs of students peeking around corners gave away their locations as much as their clues did. When we were finally directed to the cafeteria/stage, we walked in to see the students all posed on stage, pointing the focus to upstage center where one of them held aloft an envelope.
The cast burst into “Don’t Stop Believing,” the finale of the musical. After several repetitions of the refrain, they came down from the stage and handed each of us a ticket.
They had bought each of us a ticket to see the tour of “The Lion King” when it comes to Denver in May.
When we got back to the classroom, the principal was there, beaming and saying she was so glad for us. She told us that they had been planning it for weeks, that they had come to her to make sure it was okay to do, that they fundraised totally on their own for this, that they made arrangements with the financial secretary so she could help collect payments, that they had written up plans for how to do this and stored them in her office so we wouldn’t see them.
And, honestly, while I am enormously touched by the gesture; that is what makes me the most happy as a teacher. They not only did this, they did it right. As we started on the hunt and left the room, I mentioned to the secretary that it went against all of my instincts to leave a class unattended without instructions for what to be doing.
“Don’t worry about it,” she said. “They cleared all of this with us and the principal.”
She was chuckling about it later. “You should have seen them while they were explaining the plans to the class! They stood at the front of the room and said, ‘Settle down everyone,’ and then just stood there, giving them a teacher look, waiting for silence! They had perfect classroom management!”
That. That makes me proud.