Inspiring Okeechobee: It’s all in your perspective

OKEECHOBEE — Selfishly, I had to keep this a little light this week. This week I have had the pleasure of capturing a bit of the essence and glimpse into the life of fourth graders. We are preparing for Tropicana speeches, after a grueling few weeks of standardized testing (that’s truly eye opening, shocking experience and a topic for a whole different column).

Did you know that the fear of public speaking tops the list of fears of Americans? Wonderfully, I never suffered from this fear, but I can sympathize with those who do. This was my mother’s greatest fear. For me I loved to get up and talk to people! I wanted to be a presidential speech writer when I received my degree in public speaking from the University of Central Florida in 1989. Thank goodness God had other plans, with today’s political landscape.

Listening to the students over the past few weeks, as they have chosen topics from how to feed your dog your homework, to how to make slime or funny words in the English language like pandiculate, which means to simultaneously yawn and stretch from head to toe. The kids have changed topics a time or seven, but what is most interesting is that you get to see the world, their world, through the lens of a 9 or 10-year-old.

These are some of the things I learned from the speeches:

• An estimated 1.5 million children were killed during World War II.

• My fear of heights but my love of the mountain views sometimes give me the “collywobbles” or butterflies in my stomach.

• It’s frightening to get on stage and talk in front of others, or meet people because of shyness, unless you meet your family or friends who you already know.

• I learned it’s better to tell a lie than the truth (but that’s a lie) and never lie to a cop or a teacher! They’ll catch you every time.

• If you want to rule the world, you must get good grades in school, go to college, and become president.

• It is possibly easier to just go ahead and do your homework, rather than finding ways to entice your dog to eat it.

• If dogs could learn to talk, it would be easy to teach them how to do your math.

• If you want to learn to make slime, my fourth graders know how to teach you — the ingredients are: Sta Flo, glue, food coloring and shaving cream. (What the heck is Sta Flo?)

• Summer break, means a break from school work. Everyone knows that your brain needs a break from work. Work is NOT good for your brain.

• Getting revenge on your older sister requires a detailed plan: turn her alarm off, quietly gather the things that matter to her and hide them, then take one shoe from each pair of shoes so she doesn’t have a matching pair, and last, hot glue her bedsheets together! (He wants us to check and see if he’s alive next week).

• If your child is given a chore and they poorly execute it, one could assume they heard the speech about how to get out of chores. Do a bad job and you won’t be asked again, or better yet, say you have homework!

• If one of the students ruled the world, he could control people, but he wouldn’t because he’s nice. He really is nice!

• If you happen to go to the beach this summer, you can play a made-up game called sharks and humans. I don’t advise playing this game for real. Also, don’t forget to pack your lunch, because swimming at the beach makes you really hungry.

• If you aren’t Irish, you might prefer to celebrate Christmas instead of St. Patrick’s Day. According to one of the students it is quite possibly the worst holiday ever, but she really doesn’t know anyone who is Irish.

• Last and most important: Mrs. Suarez is the best teacher because she gives snacks, not just to one student, but to all students in her class. She helps with schoolwork so I know what to do and how to do it. She is sweet, kind and nice. (I promise I didn’t pay her.)

Even on the days that they fray the last nerve, push every button, and have you ready to send the entire class to the principal’s office, these kids have my heart. They come from all walks of life and have such innocence still. They inspire me to do my best. For all that’s bad in the world, in our little piece of the world in Room 134, these kids have the world waiting for them to do great things! I guess it’s time to buy more snacks.

Thanks, kids, for inspiring me and Okeechobee this week.

Leah Suarez is a freelance writer.

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.

Facebook Comment