We stood waiting for the parade of sorts, it was it was the passing of the traveling Vietnam War Memorial.

Children love parades. It is not novel, as it is akin to a screen, in which the viewer stands as the center of attention makes moves around them. Many parades in some towns have become a thing of the past, a minor annoyance, tying up traffic.

It seems in Apopka parades are common, a memorial to the past. A mixture of old and new. On the morning after a bittersweet election for many Americans, we stood at the curb to honor the memory of those who had passed and things that were past.

Leaving later at school, I stopped at Kit Land Nelson Park, the center of so many Apopka events, to see the traveling memorial. It is over fifty years ago. Two of my uncles served in the Green Berets, for several tours. Both are gone, neither suffered injury. One hit by a car, the other suffering the effects of cancer.

A year or two, one way or the other, became a life and death issue. In a war where 19 years was the average age, a few years younger might make a difference if you served, perhaps, if you lived. It was a divisive war, the first rifts of the great divide we have crossed over into.  The replica, from the Maya Lin memorial, is a testament to all those who lost their lives. Even on a smaller scale it is breathtaking.

The site of the memorial is both well done and sobering. I pass a man on my way out, he nods at me. I do not know him, and I wonder if he served, or if he had a brother who had fallen. There is an unspoken camaraderie, as we are within the bounds of the same age. A shared memory of the past, of being human.


The Play’s the Thing

This is the first weekend I have time to blog. A while back, from March 1 to the March 3, Adelia Chambers’ production of Seussical the Musical took place. Months of practice, rehearsals, sets, props, costume and makeup design came together for a few precious hours. This was the third production, following The Lion King and The Little Mermaid. Following are photos during and after the show.

Where does a principal and assistant principal dress up for the occasion?

Ticket art

Soundchecks and placement before show


Curtain calls

What would become the backdrops

Orange County’s Arts Education Impact Grant presented by The Foundation for Orange County Public Schools provided Mrs. Chambers with funds for the play, we would might have had to find other sources for. Thank you, Foundation.

Christmas, again, and again.

Adelia Chambers and Apopka Elementary Chorus Club opens the season.

On December 1, the season begins with Adelia Chambers and her chorus performing in Winter Wonderland. Public school children throughout the area are invited to perform at the Kit Land Nelson Park, in conjunction with the lighting of the tree and other holiday festivities which kick off the holiday.

Wet for a while and cold, as the morning sun tried to break through.

Next came the parade on the 9th. Everything you have seen in movies about local parades, you can just envision in these parades. It is kind of small townish, with a charm not only for those in it, but those who are watching it as well.

My school on parade.

 Mayor Joe Kilsheimer and his wife.

Councilman Bryan Carson

School Board Christine Moore walked instead of rode.

Florida hospital and their rebuilt announcements.

Jones High School.

Ocoee High School

Wekiwa High School


The Blue Darters, Apopka High

Video clips from parade

We had Pajama Reading Night at school

We also decided to give back to the community. This was my team’s basket, along with Kindergarten’s for the Apopka Police.

There is also Kit Land Nelson Park and its lit up fineries. Even on Christmas Night you find people in the park at the later hours. Just happy to walk around and see all the light installations.

There was also this commercial during the food drive which was another event after school. Many showed up to help give out free food, donated by Second Harvest.

The real fun of a small town during the holidays, I have found is the park and the way my friends on West Orange celebrate with lighting their houses.

 This house attaches to the one below follow the wire to the left to see how the lights attach the two houses.

And that, my dear Disney, is how Christmas is done in the city of Apopka. You might want to stop by and see.


Apopka Streets and Halloween

apopka1The maestro who owns and designs this amazing site will greet you.

By the Kit Land Nelson Park, there is a street called West Orange right off Park. There you will find elaborate house decorations, but especially Halloween at number 58.


We don’t do much about Halloween in school. but this neighborhood makes up for it in their own colorful way. For many of us, though, this is the holiday that sets up a trio which brings us finally to the new year.

The fun part is the same people in the neighborhood who work so hard at Halloween are even more reverent for Christmas.

Thank you

My future Rothkos, Klines and Mondrians will be allowed to start with me, due to the Foundation’s support!

“I was very happy to receive an Orange County’s License4Learning Arts Education Impact Grant presented by The Foundation for Orange County Public Schools. As art teacher to Apopka Elementary, the grant will allow me to pursue work with my students, I may not have had the funds for. I would like to thank Deborah L. Pedraza  for her leadership with the Foundation. A special thanks to Twanna Scroggins for all her help and support during the grant writing process. ”  -2016-17

This was my second win, and it is an honor not to scrounge around for supply money, or take it out of pocket. This pet project allowed my kids a chance to Paint Large, like real studio artists do. The kids, and I, truly appreciated the honor.

Orlando Rep: A Playful Approach to Writing

Workshop mates EJ  Jordan, Adelia Chambers with our wonderful leader, Mary Hall,

The Orlando Rep has offered these great workshops on Wednesday in conjunction with Orange County Public Schools, for teachers to resee writing possibilities by the use of theatre, tableau, portraits, comic strips etc. These are sponsored by the Kennedy Center. This particular workshop was presented by Mary Hall Surface , a playwright who came down from DC.

Mary Hall took us through strategies on how to guide students to reinvent an old tale (Little Miss Muffet) into a personal theatrical interpretation. In turn as teachers we would be able to guide our students into new ways of creating a unique literary perspective. This is very different than dry writing prompts, abstract character analysis, etc Students recognize structure (beginning, middle, end) and become accountable for breathing new life into old entities.

We developed characters as a group and then gave them life with a quick improv, which Mary Hall considers a first draft. We had to discover a problem and then how we resolved it. We had to clearly come up with a beginning, middle and end. Each group devised a totally different interpretation.

My group, Muffet 1 (not here as a video), presented Ms. Muffet as a shady lady who had kidnapped Curds N. Whey. She was aided by her henchman, Tuffet (me). But along comes a Spider(man) who frightens Muffet, using Net to allow the release of Miss Whey. A very goofy, but interesting concept, as Muffet becomes the antagonist. The problem being how will Whey get away from Muffet.

The characterization for Muffet 2 created several new characters and used as a problem how Mom and Muffet would get to where they were going. So each presentation allows for its own interpretation which eventually promotes a writing component.

Teachers get excited over this because it is a new tool, using theater which allows kids to get up on their feet and perform, regroup and rethink outside the standard box. There is a lot of room for critical thinking and discussion. There is synthesis, analysis and application all going on at once, as anyone in the arts can recognize.

This was the final workshop for the season of 2016-17. These workshops because of their nature make teachers rethink writing, using the performing and visual arts as a way of getting students to bridge writing and action. This is the third workshop of four this season, I have attended.  The workshops are always pertinent to getting kids to write, but also to get kids to take on broader perspectives.

Teachers find fresh approaches to working with students. We have had many classroom teachers, but many ESE teachers as well, who find this approach liberating for students who may need to explore success a different way. I thank the Kennedy Center and the Orlando Rep; all presenters this season; and Ashley Spero and Scott Evans from Orange County Public Schools. These workshop events offer us fresh approaches to being successful with our students.