10 May 2007

Day Trip

Last weekend, on Saturday, I went to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. You see, our school's EL (English Learners) Department had organized a field trip for good, high-achieving students, and on a whim, they asked me to participate as a chaperone. And I had SUCH A GOOD TIME. Since I am accustomed to working with budding criminals and just plain naughty children, it was a revelation to be among hard-working, well-mannered young people. Nobody cussed at me or threatened to sue me; nobody threw things or argued unnecessarily. Wow, I thought, if I had the right group of students, life could be almost this good EVERY DAY. Whoa. Almost enough to make me want to teach in middle or high school again. Almost, but not quite. I was given five young ladies as my charges. We stuck together throughout the day, learned some stuff, and had fun.

We saw some jellyfish:
And a kelp forest, including some tiger sharks:
And penguins:
We also visited the Monterey State History Park, which was well-done and educational. Did you know that Monterey was the first capital of California? And that it was a center of the 19th century whaling industry? [Why, oh why, didn't I take pictures? Guess I was too busy learning and having fun.]

Then we walked along the historic Fisherman's Wharf (although we avoided infamous but boring Cannery Row). We had a close encounter with a sea otter, that swam right up to the dock where we were loitering. The girls named it Cecilia the Sea Otter, for reasons never revealed to me.

I particularly enjoyed the quaint Bruce Ariss Wharf Theater. They were doing a production of H.M.S. Pinafore at the time. In addition to being an active participant in the thriving local arts scene, the Bruce Ariss Theater is a sort of little theater museum, with posters and artifacts from its history of more than half a century of performing great dramatic and musical productions, as well as a little gallery showcasing local artists. Very cool. I took the girls inside and pointed to posters and pictures on the walls, identifying musical plays (Annie, The Sound of Music, My Fair Lady, The Mikado, The Pirates of Penzance, Cabaret, to name a few) and explaining their origins and plots, and occasionally, even singing some snatches of the scores. My young ladies bore it with patience, although one or two betrayed genuine interest. Most interesting of all, we could go into the actual theater and see the set for their current play. There was a man working there, who was about five feet tall and 100 years old, who creaked over to turn on the lights and let us in, and gave us as much time as we wanted to see the Pinafore set. Again, I wish I'd had presence of mind to take pictures. *sigh* But I was able to explain some principles of set design and demonstrate to the girls how clues from a set can aid a viewer in understanding a play's setting, even with no actors on the stage to speak dialogue. In the case of Pinafore, I pointed out that we could immediately tell that the play was set on a ship, thanks to the set, and we could also see that the ship was named the H.M.S. Pinafore, because the ship's life preservers had that name on them. We could tell that Pinafore was a British ship, thanks to the Union Jack and portrait of Queen Victoria (which also signaled to the viewer the time period of the play's setting: mid-late 19th century) on display.
I also enjoyed spending time with some great coworkers, who were fellow chaperones.

And I can't forget the quality time spent with the candy cigarette, given to me by a student who had bought a pack.


Willow said...

I always loved to watch the jelly fish at the Mark Hatfield oregon coast aquarium in Newport. it sounds like you had a great time. I want to go to the Long Beach Aquarium or the one in San Diego NOW!

mama mia said...

Sis, you are so awesome! Look at you, holdin' a candy ciggy while hanging out with middle schoolers! You rock! :o)

...miss you...

Sher said...

I would so love to go to the Monterey Aquarium. Fisherman's Wharf is very cool, even though I only saw it at night.