Stanley BPS Special Issue. Students wave from a classroom at the Nyagatare School outside Nyabikiri, Rwanda.

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1 Stanley BPS Special Issue Students wave from a classroom at the Nyagatare School outside Nyabikiri, Rwanda. An Odyssey in Africa Last summer, Stanley BPS teachers Mary Jo Peterson and Allison Neckers traveled to Africa, Mary Jo to Uganda and Allison to Rwanda. This is the story of their remarkable time there, and how they brought their experiences into their classrooms to enrich their students understanding of the world and of the true meaning of our school s vision statement to make a positive difference in the world. Kim Stewart, Stanley BPS parent For many years, Mary Jo and Allison wanted to go to Africa. Allison especially wanted to volunteer in Rwanda. As a senior in high school, she had watched in horror the news reports on TV about the genocide in Rwanda, a tragedy that consumed one million lives in 100 days. It struck me that, for us here, the tragedy briefly came on the TV news and then it was gone, she said. But of course, it wasn t over, and I felt helpless about it. Later however, Allison s passion died when she came to believe that the limits of her physical disability prohibited her from doing the kinds of physical labor that volunteering in Africa typically involves. Mary Jo wanted to join the Peace Corps in Africa after graduating from college, but circumstances led instead to her joining Vista (Volunteers to Serve in America) in Denver and working with multiply challenged children. Growing up, I always felt very loved and provided for, and I felt for those who did not have their basic needs met, she said. I ve always had a heart for the poor, and Africa is very special to me. Last year, an unexpected opportunity arose for each teacher. Allison s church adopted the town of Nyabikiri, a small village in northeastern Rwanda and, working with Food for the Hungry International, the church was organizing a 3 week trip to build community and begin work on projects there. There was the physically demanding work to be done, but there was also a desperate need for teachers, she said. Mary Jo s church was organizing a trip to Lira, a town in northern Uganda, in partnership with Light Force International, to support Ben and Holly Porter, a Denver couple who are working in the refugee camps and with the families of children kidnapped by rebels who operate in the northern region of Uganda. A whirlwind of fundraising activities ensued to raise the money to fund the trips. Allison s students held a bake sale, and the parents gave a generous end of year cash gift that was a huge help. Mary Jo also received donations from her students parents. She put a jar at the front desk of the K 1 2 building for donations to buy mosquito nets, and received enough money to provide a net for the family of every student at Lira s Ongura Primary School that would protect the family from malaria. Stanley British Primary School January 2008 Volume 1, Issue 2

2 Allison and Mary Jo also each received a grant from the Partners in Active Support of Carolyn Hambidge Fund. The fund was newly created by Stanley BPS parents Susan Morrice and Alex Cranberg to enable teachers and staff, said Susan, to follow their dreams. By the end of the school year, the money was raised. In June, Mary Jo and Allison left for Africa. The Queen and the Ant Hill Mary Jo and nine members of her church spent most of their two weeks in Uganda at the Ongura Primary School, a school of 500 students just outside Lira, a small and very poor town. Their purpose there was twofold to build community with the teachers and children and to help the school with several projects. One of the most challenging tasks was the one that Mary Jo focused on building a soccer field for the children. We brought soccer balls and goals, kick balls, frisbees decorated by our kids in Extended Day, and all sorts of recreational supplies because the children didn t have P.E., Mary Jo said. They ve never played these sports though they knew about soccer. A formidable obstacle lay in their path, however a gigantic waist high ant hill, measuring some 20 feet long by 4 feet Mary Jo Peterson. wide and filled with many thousands of red ants with vicious bites. The children who wanted to help build their soccer field, like all the kids at the school, were shoeless. to find the queen. The children s know how and cleverness produced her in short order, an amazing creature, bright yellow, and at least 3 inches long, Mary Jo said. After the queen was killed, the ants immediately began to leave. By the next morning, they had abandoned their home, leaving behind only a 2 inch wide path that led from the mound to the grassy field. The children, some local adults, and the volunteers hacked away at the mound for days, using a few machetes and a couple of shovels and hoes, and carrying the dirt away in a wheelbarrow whose wheels kept coming off. A week later, the mound was gone, the tall grasses were cleared, up went the soccer goal posts, and the children played their first soccer game. The kids were ecstatic, she said. Poor, Resourceful and Joyful As the volunteers helped with other projects, the breadth and depth of the poverty sank in. The poverty is almost incomprehensible, explained Mary Jo. The children have no shoes. For most, the clothing they wear is all they have. They eat one very simple meal a day, usually at home after school. It s very hot but they don t bring water to school because it is so precious. Malnutrition and sickness is a serious problem because of their diet and because the water they drink is contaminated. The poverty extends to the school facilities. The classrooms are quite crowded. About st graders are in one classroom that s smaller than the standard SBPS classroom. The room is equipped with a few crude tables and benches, and the aisles between the benches are filled with children sitting on the We wanted to change the official regulation dimensions of the field to avoid the ant hill, thinking that the distance between the goals could be a little bit shorter for kids this age, said Mary Jo. But the School Head insisted on the official measurements. He said that the children would have the same field as children do everywhere else, Mary Jo said. They deserved to have what other kids have, as much as the school could make that happen. The Head, the teachers and especially the children had great pride in their school, their country and themselves. We saw this time and time again. So, the first step in getting rid of the giant mound was The 1st grade classroom. floor. Said Mary Jo, It is wall to wall children. The teacher has one chalkboard, and four pieces of chalk that she carries around with her like the most precious commodity on the face Stanley British Primary School January 2008 Page 2

3 One of the classroom buildings at the Ongura Primary School. of the earth because it s all she has. There are almost no books. Each child has a pen and a flimsy pad of lined paper. There are no markers or pencils. The teacher has nothing to teach with, really. So, the teachers compensate with a considerable resourcefulness. In one example, they had no books to teach students about human anatomy so they painted pictures of parts of the human body on the outside walls of a classroom building. They wanted students to learn the geography of Uganda and Africa but they only had one small map. So the teachers, the volunteers and children created two large concrete maps on had brought newspapers which they laid over the maps to speed the drying. There was a great sense of pride in doing this, said Mary Jo. It was, this is the map of our country. This is where our mountains are, where our rivers are. Though they worked on several projects, Mary Jo and the volunteers spent just as much time playing with the children. They sang songs, taught each other games and exchanged favorite stories, and learned words in each other s language. The children were exceptionally creative, she said. With no blocks, art supplies or toys to speak of, the children created their own play. They invented games with rocks and nuts from the trees and made balls and toys with discarded bits of string and plastic they would find. They were so imaginative in how they figured out fun ways to play with what little they had, she said. The experience affirmed a hunch of Mary Jo s that children have an innate desire to create and play no matter where they are or what their circumstances may be. Sticks enjoy a special stature in this regard. Kids love sticks the world around, especially boys. I think there s a stick gene in boys that triggers around 2, she laughed. The map of Uganda on the school grounds. the school grounds. They crushed rocks and walked back and forth to the well a mile away with the children carrying large yellow jerry cans on their heads to get the water for cement. They mixed and poured the concrete and placed sticks in the wet cement for rivers and rocks for mountains. Mary Jo s team Mary Jo plays volleyball with the girl students. For Mary Jo, the most remarkable discovery of the visit was realizing how hopeful and joyful the children were. So many times these kids showed such an incredible sense of joy and exuberance that I ve not seen before, she recounted. One of the most profound moments for me was when we were taking turns having the children work with hoes on the ant hill and teaching them English (there were many children and few hoes). I had pointed to everything around me saying the word in English and then having them tell me the word in Lwo, their language. When I ran out of things to point to, I started singing one of their songs I had heard the day before. Stanley British Primary School January 2008 Page 3

4 A couple of children ran to get the one small drum the school had, and suddenly I was surrounded by many, many children singing and dancing. We twirled and jumped and clapped and gestured and stomped. They danced with all their heart. I danced until I could hardly The mud and grass homes outside Lira. walk. There was so much happiness that I laughed until I cried. majority Hutus who for years were treated as the lesser class and discriminated against in jobs and education. Today, the government forbids citizens to attempt to identify an individual s tribe, and the law has helped reduce intertribal conflict. However, uncertainty remains, and poison is one of the major causes of death. Still, the country is stable. Like Uganda, Rwanda is steeped in poverty. The children were also very loving and caring. Every morning the kids would pick mangoes on their way to school, and they would give them to us, Mary Jo said. It was heart wrenching to see hungry kids bring us the fruit they found. Much was accomplished during the visit. Mary Jo and the volunteers helped build a latrine and a privacy wall for the girl students, and a short brick boundary that encircles the flagpole in the school s courtyard where they raise the Uganda flag each morning. They introduced the children to the joys of blowing balloons and bubbles which they had brought with them. They held a picture day and with an instant Polaroid camera that they brought with them, they provided each child with their first picture of themselves. The volunteers also visited a desolate resettlement camp filled with people who had been driven out of their homes by the rebels. They held a solidarity day there visiting the homes and market, helping cook foods and playing with the children. But the most important aspect of their time in Uganda was simply lovin on the kids. Mary Jo explained, We went there and expressed to them that they are amazing human beings, so special that people would come from far away to spend time with them. It s not a message that they get often, and they loved it. We all did. We hugged so much and they loved to be hugged and touched. I touched so many heads. Nyabikiri, Rwanda: The Drought and the Well Unlike the ever present danger in much of Uganda, Rwanda is considered to be one of the safest countries in Africa. In the genocide s aftermath, the government has worked toward reconciliation of the two tribes the Tutsis who were the minority elite and largely the victims of the genocide, and the Allison and 15 volunteers from her church spent over two weeks in Nyabikiri, a settlement town of primarily refugees of the genocide. About 2/3 of the 4,000 residents are children, many of whom run households because of their parents deaths mostly from AIDS or malaria. The church volunteers spent much of their time at the Nyabikiri School where about 1,200 of the town s children are taught. The hundreds of kids who don t attend spend the day herding cattle, gathering water, cooking for their families, and raising their younger siblings. Allison s group sought to build community with the townspeople to lay the foundation for a 5 year partnership between their church Allison Neckers. and Nyabikiri. The town s mayor asked them to help build a well at a natural spring water source that was recently discovered in a farm pasture. The well would reduce the village s reliance on the source of so much sickness among the children dirty, contaminated water. The well was especially important because the area was experiencing a drought it had not rained for months. The group was also there to support and train the school s 14 teachers. A young herdsman. Every morning for the first ten days or so, Allison and the volunteers traveled to the well site located about a mile from the Stanley British Primary School January 2008 Page 4

5 school. Along the way, villagers came out of their huts and greeted the volunteers. By 8:30, they, the school children and other adult volunteers were at work building the well. Rocks were needed to siphon the water and filter out the contaminants. The children found rocks, balanced them on their heads and carried them to the well site. Culverts were set in the ground to provide walls for the well, the rocks were placed, and a pump was installed. The children took turns helping with the well, and Allison spent time with those who weren t busy, getting to know the kids and building community. When the well was finished, the villagers and everyone who had worked on the well gathered that night to celebrate. They had good reason engineers estimate that the well will serve 2,000 people for years to come. At the site, the well was formally dedicated, and people sang and praised and did a rain dance. Later that night, the rains came for the first time in months. It just poured, Allison said. Drawing the first water from the new well. A Nutritional Crisis In the afternoons, Allison and the team taught and played with the school children to give the teachers a much needed break. We each had about 100 students, and we would form one circle and teach conversational English, she said. We also used the math manipulatives that we brought with us and did counting and some math. We taught each other songs, we played games, and we acted out stories for the children, which they loved. Like Mary Jo, Allison was amazed at how happy and positive the children were. It was a magical moment when all Allison teaches a song to children at the well site. of the kids were around us, she said. They were so happy and so excited to see us. They would just burst into song. Their faces were beaming. The children work hard at school, seeing their education as both an honor and the path to a much better life, as is the case in Uganda. The Rwandan and Ugandan children want to attend secondary school, but admittance requires top notch grades on a demanding 7th grade exam and tuition which, while small, is something that most families simply do not have. Like the Ugandan children, the students take great pride in their country. I asked the children what they wanted to be when they grow up, Allison said. Most said the president of Rwanda. They are so proud of the national unity that was created after the genocide. The children s efforts and spirit were especially impressive because of their severe nutritional deficiency. Ugandans average less than 10 servings of meat a year. Their diet is mainly potatoes and a pasty porridge which tastes like nothing, Allison said. Consequently, the children and the teachers are always very tired. The deficiency shows in several ways, she said. The children s hair doesn t grow. Teaching the Teachers On the weekends, Allison and Heidi McClellan, a Denver 3 rd grade teacher, trained the school s 14 teachers, focusing on effective teaching practices and the English language. Allison brought a bagful of teaching materials including some Stanley British Primary School January 2008 Page 5

6 colorful maps that fascinated the teachers. They pored over the maps and said, North and South America they re connected? she said. They had never seen pictures of other parts of the world or a TV or animals outside Africa, which we showed them. Allison and Heidi soon realized that the teachers were doing the right things in their classrooms. The problem was their classes were so huge. So they spent much of the time with the teachers talking together, focusing on ways to deal with the various challenges they face. The Boys at the Hedge Each night, Allison s team ate dinner at the house where they stayed. Boys would come and stand behind the hedge that lined the yard, yelling to the volunteers inside, How are you, how is your wife? Said Allison, We d reply I do not have a wife, but my life is great. One boy would call to me, Arsenal, arsenal! I would see him at the hedge, and we would talk a lot about his life and his dreams. A special moment for Allison occurred one night at dinner when they heard singing from outside next door. We went to see. About 15 men and women were standing in a circle and they were singing with their arms raised and rocking back and forth. I looked down and there was a mass grave from the genocide. They were singing praises and remembering the people who were gone. After that, we went every night to sing with them. Allison met with teachers and students at the neighboring Nyagatare School where classes are often held outside under the trees. The team went on home visits and conducted medical workshops at two local clinics. As her time in Africa drew to a close, Allison realized that she had found the one thing outside of teaching, that she could focus on to help people. This is the place where I think I can make a difference, she said. Allison also concluded that while helping the teachers and students with schooling is a worthy contribution, unless the children are getting protein and a healthier diet and have access to medical care, they re not going to get better. They re won t be able to be educated. The Unanswered Question The spirit of the Ugandan and Rwandan children raises the question: Why, amidst great poverty and hardship, are the children so joyful, hopeful and resilient? Neither Allison nor Mary Jo have an answer to that vexing question. However, they both believe that at times, there was a felt sense of holiness when they were with the children. It was very spiritual because the children were so alive, so happy, said Allison. I felt a sense of reverence around them. There wasn t any hopelessness at all. Said Mary Jo, There was a holiness about being with these kids, a presence that is very difficult to explain. Making a Positive Difference in the World When Allison and Mary Jo returned home, they began to translate what they had learned and experienced into a teaching plan that would open their students eyes to a very different world. Both saw a unique opportunity to use their Africa experiences to show students that making a positive difference in the world is something everyone can do and make a part of their daily lives. For Mary Jo, the task was especially challenging. After all, many of the younger students in her K 1 2 class don t have a concept of the earth yet, and there was much about her visit that would frighten them. So she decided that the world she would teach about would be the Ugandan children themselves their everyday lives, their likes and dislikes, their school, their families, and their play. I talked to the kids about so many aspects of the children s lives in a comfortable way, she said. Mary Jo showed them her photos of the children and their homes and their school, and supplemented the pictures with books about African children and other materials that they could understand. Stanley British Primary School January 2008 Page 6

7 She taught her students how to play the games she learned from the Ugandan children. I showed how the children do imaginative play with tree trunks that they ve found, and how they create their own play. She shared the Ugandan children s favorite stories and wove her knowledge and experiences into a variety of classroom activities. Mary Jo also talked about the children s kindness and caring, about how they brought her mangoes, how they cared about each other, and how they took such care of what little they had. I said, They are so kind, and in many ways they are just like us. So how can we do the same and extend kindness to others? Mary Jo explained that the Ugandan children sweep the dirt floor outside their classroom and wash the classroom floors because they are so proud of their school. So can we pick up the trash outside the classroom and pick up wrappers from snack? she asked the children. They don t have color markers so can we put the lids on the markers when we re done with them? Can we turn the water off when we re done because they have no water and they have to walk very far to get it? The children responded, as Mary Jo hoped, with their own caring and kindness. A parent called to say that her daughter was collecting her best pairs of socks to take to school to make puppets for the Ugandan children. The kids became more aware of taking care of their classroom and each other, she said, in part because they felt a connection with the Uganda children. These were children that I met and hugged and played with. So to the kids, the Uganda children didn t seem so far away. Last month, Mary Jo s 1st graders and 2nd graders each wrote a group letter to the Uganda children on a very large piece of paper. The students each took a turn writing something about themselves and their school and asking questions. The class sent the two letters via courier to the Ongura School, along with adhesive tape so the students could display the letters in their classrooms. Mary Jo is currently working on increasing communication between her children and the Ongura students. Mary Jo will continue teaching her class about the Ugandan children. She s thinking about bringing African fabric to class so the kids can make pillows and doing some African cooking. I m so proud of my kids for how they ve reacted to what we ve talked about, especially about extending kindnesses and caring, she said. That s where making a positive difference begins. How will you make a difference? Allison s approach was to partner with Stanley BPS teacher Valentina Mascarenhas and develop a Global Awareness unit for their classes. Their purpose was to bring the globe to our students by studying the realities and challenges facing the world, especially impoverished nations. Allison began the unit by asking her students to each make a list of their needs and wants. Once that was done, Allison presented her slide show of her Rwanda visit. The class then engaged in an open discussion about their lists and what they had seen. They were stunned, she said. They had never realized that their needs that they assumed would always be taken care of healthy food, clean water and clothing, and medical care are a fantasy for the Rwandan children. Allison told her students that as a Stanley BPS teacher, she is charged with helping prepare each of them to make a positive difference in the world. She then asked her students to figure out what your future will hold. How will you make a positive difference? Choose your passion. After much thought and discussion, each student developed a profile of their future specifically, what they wanted to be, whom or what they would help (people, animals, or the environment), and what positive difference they would make. Their profiles were posted on the class bulletin board. The unit was highly integrated, with readings, social studies, science and math activities designed to provide an understanding of global challenges and realities. I wanted the students to understand the makeup of the world which is difficult to do with a population of 6.4 billion people, she said. So we used math to simplify. We created a global village of 100 people where each person represents 64 million people. The kids calculated that in this village are 61 Asians, 13 Africans, and so on. The students visited an exhibit at Metro State College to see a variety of unusual inventions that have in some way changed the way people live. They each wrote to their new pen pal, one of the Nyabikiri students. All the while, the responsibility for making a positive difference remained at the forefront with students weekly presentations of current events focusing on people who have made a difference. A Cow A Thon for A Cow The students in Allison s and Valentina s classes believed that the immediate difference making task at hand was helping the students at the Nyabikiri School. Stanley British Primary School January 2008 Page 7

8 What is the ideal invention that would change the world? Allison posed this question to her students. Here s a sampling of their ideas: A starfighter that can go to a parallel universe that has unlimited fuel and oil and tons of other resources to give to the people in Rwanda. Jack Longenecker. A machine that turns all poachers, kidnappers, murderers, and thieves nice and turns them into animal and kids lovers. Emma Goldner de Beer. A laser that can puncture the ozone layer and let the pollution out and then close the layer up. Noah Muskin. A dream a fyer that makes every kid s dreams come true. Kacey Godwin. A machine that dissolves plastic. James Silvestri. A pill that makes children not starve to death. Isabel Schreiber. A machine that makes people care. Journey Simmons. They decided that the most useful gift they could give is a cow whose milk would provide critically needed protein. (A heifer can produce 4 gallons of milk a day, and a calf every year.) To raise the cow cash, the students held a Cow A Thon where they ran laps, shot baskets, scored soccer goals, flew kites, and hula hooped until they raised $3,000, enough money to buy not one but two cows, and the feed and medical care for them. The Global Awareness unit culminated with an evening Global Thanksgiving Banquet that both classes together held for their parents. The event dramatically demonstrated the extent of hunger in the world. Another Time, Another Trip Allison and Mary Jo hope to return to Africa. Allison now serves on the child development board of Food for the Hungry International. We ll be working on ways to help the teachers and kids and figuring out ways to get beans in their diet so they have more protein, Allison said. Both teachers will continue to develop the relationship between their students and the children at the Ongura and Nyabikiri schools. It s been a wonderful learning experience for all of us, Mary Jo said. Turn the page for the debut of Ten Questions, the profile series of Stanley BPS teachers and staff. Stanley BPS Special Issue Editors: Tim Barrier, Jean Sayre and Kim Stewart Africa photos: Allison Neckers and Mary Jo Peterson Other photos and publication design: Kim Stewart Stanley British Primary School 350 Quebec St., Denver, CO Special Issue provides in depth coverage of topics about the Stanley BPS community. It is published periodically via and is a publication of the Development Office. Contact Kim Stewart if you d like to subscribe to Special Issue via , or if you have questions or a story idea for a future issue Stanley British Primary School January 2008 Page 8

9 Ten Questions Ted McLean & Vicky Mierau Launch Our Profile Series of Stanley BPS Faculty & Staff. Beginning with this issue, we are profiling one teacher and one staff member at Stanley BPS to provide an opportunity to better get to know the people who teach our students and those who professionally implement and support the administrative activities at Stanley BPS. Ted McLean teaches 6th and 8th grade math and coaches middle school basketball. He grew up in east Denver with an older brother and younger sister, and earned his economics degree from Colorado College. After graduating, Ted was a ski bum in Aspen for a few years and then got serious and traveled to Quito, Ecuador where he taught math to 9th and 10th graders at a bilingual school. I was thrown into teaching, and I loved it, he said. It was a great place to learn how to teach. While there, Ted earned a Masters in Education degree from Boston University and then returned home to Denver where he began his stateside teaching career at Stanley BPS. He s been here 10 years. I love the school s philosophy and environment, Ted said. It s a place where learning is approached in many different ways. I feel free to teach my best and use my humor in my teaching. Ted and his wife Karin have two children Annika, 6, and Bo, 4. Ted McLean. Your best teaching moment. One of my best, and in fact, my first teaching moment was in my 10 th grade chemistry class. The class period had started, and the teacher was getting agitated with the class, so she asked if anyone wanted to teach the lesson. I d done the homework and felt like what the heck, I ll do it. So I taught the entire lesson. Afterwards, the teacher said that perhaps I should consider going into the profession later in life. And so here I am! Your favorite movie. For me, Wayne s World. To show to my students, Amadeus. As a student, middle school was. A blast. I went to Christ the King (8th and Elm). I remember being well bonded with my classmates and always laughing. I was very busy, playing the trumpet, working a newspaper route, and I played a lot of sports (including soccer on Michael Hambidge s team). I m still friends with some of my classmates. Describe your ideal day off. Spending a day in the mountains either skiing or hiking. Your favorite fictional character. The tree in Shel Silverstein s The Giving Tree. If you weren t a teacher, what would you be? An accountant or an actuary. I ve always loved crunching and analyzing numbers. Your favorite indulgence. Lobster, served in a humid climate near the ocean. Your number one pet peeve. Being interrupted while talking. The characteristic you most admire in other people. Integrity. Moral integrity, integrity to your family, your profession, and your beliefs. A well kept secret. I ve always wanted to learn to tap dance. Stanley British Primary School January 2008 Page 9

10 Vicky Mierau Vicky has worked at Stanley BPS for 13 years in various capacities receptionist, Carolyn s Assistant, and now Development and Business Assistant. She answers questions about musical ticket sales, enrichment, extended day, and hot lunch. She also makes sure that members of the Stanley BPS community and friends are acknowledged for their donations to the school. Vicky is a musician by training with a Bachelor of Arts degree in organ performance and a minor in piano performance from the University of Colorado. Before coming to Stanley BPS, Vicky worked ten years for the Colorado Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Program, a two person office that supported families affected by the death of a baby from SIDS. The job was incredibly rewarding but very difficult at times, she said. It was so good to see parents two, three or five years later, rebuilding their lives, having subsequent children, and then helping other parents. We were like a big family, helping each other out. Vicky s husband, Gary, is Director of the Electron Microscopy Lab at The Children s Hospital. Her son, Tobin, is a corporate pilot and her daughter, Jamie, works as an environmental advocate in Washington, D.C. Both are married. Vicky Mierau. Your favorite childhood memory. I grew up on a small farm in a small town in Nebraska. Christmas Eve was always a very special time. Many carolers would come through the night to sing by our bedroom windows. Groups would include families, high school kids, and sometimes just one singer. It was always a beautiful Christmas concert, their a capella singing out of this world. I remember my Dad getting up out of bed, going to the front door, inviting everyone in, and giving each person an orange and a Snickers bar. Those were his favorite treats. The bravest thing you ve ever done. Becoming a parent. Your favorite book. The Thorn Birds by Colleen MacCullough. The best advice you ve ever received. From my husband No matter how difficult a situation might be or how cornered you might feel, you always have a choice. As grim as it may seem at times, you always have a choice. Knowing this can empower a person, I think. It certainly empowered me. Your favorite indulgence. A Peanut Buster Parfait at Dairy Queen! Your best vacation. Our many car trips with the kids. Your favorite pastime. Playing the piano. I ve played since I was four. Your greatest unrealized ambition. Becoming a grandmother. Your favorite meal. Steak Ranchero. Best thing about Denver. The weather, especially fall when the aspens turn. Stanley British Primary School January 2008 Page 10

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