Spinning Tales — Students Show Another Side of Learning

By Dennis L. Morgan


One of the goals I shared with several teachers at the start of the school year was to focus more attention on other aspects of student achievements besides sports. Don’t misunderstand me, I love sports, some more than others, but there is more to schools than just Friday night scores and highlights.

This past week there were two such activities which caught my attention and, thankfully, that of many local residents.

On Thursday night the gymnasium as Elgin High School was the site of the annual science fair featuring students from both Elgin Public School and Pope John Central Catholic. All one had to do was step inside the gymnasium to be amazed at what our young people are learning by doing. Organized by instructor Sara Walsh and ably assisted by several other teachers, these students take what they learn in the classroom and apply it to numerous different experiments, all with practical applications.

In the matter of a few minutes, from walking around the gym, I learned from students why some shoes are more comfortable than others, the impact of how different fluids can stain one’s teeth. There was so much more.

As I walked from one booth to the next, I couldn’t help but be impressed with the students’ presentations. They explained each of their experiments and, more importantly, were able to answer any questions that I may have had.

This marks the third year I have attended the science fair and I must say each year is better than the last.

This event is something the school, its teachers and students should be very proud of. Keep up the good work. I look forward to next year to see how I can be amazed again.

The next night was ‘date’ night as I told Lynell we were going to opening night of the musical ‘Shout!’ at Pope John.

I love theatre, both Lynell and I have performed in several dinner theaters while in Grant years ago, so when the opportunity presents itself, we try to attend.

Again, we weren’t disappointed. the musical featured some of the music we remembered being played when we were children. These were the songs which were featured on 45-rpm records, songs from the ‘British Invasion’ and America’s answers.

The ‘colorful’ cast serenaded the audience with such songs as ‘I Only Want to be With You’, ‘Son of a Preacher Man’, ‘These Boots Are Made for Walkin’, and ‘Those Were the Days.’

There’s no way the students can appreciate the significance of the music they sang because the world was a much different place than it is now. Today, there are countless TV channels to watch, in the 1960s there were only a handful. Now, there are music stations, particularly on Sirius/FM for specific musical tastes, back then it was AM stations on transistor radios. Now, if you have a favorite band, you might get a new album once every 2-3 years. Back in the 1960s, band would produce 2-3 albums a year. Most of the music they performed in the musical were ‘girl’ songs, sung by girls touching on a wide array of emotions felt by young people at that time.

As I sat approximately 10 rows from the front, I could hear members of the audience singing along to the songs being performed on stage.

And yet, at the end of it all, I walked away sad because today’s young people don’t really have music like their parents and grandparents had when they were growing up.

In both the science fair and the musical, the students’ efforts reflected what they learned from the ir instructors. In both cases, from what I saw, they have learned a great deal.


As if that wasn’t enough, we ventured to Omaha Saturday to see the musical “Young Frankenstein” at the Orpheum Theatre. Many have seen the movie. As for the musical, which was adapted by Brooks. The performance was spell-binding and, I must say, the best theatre performance I have seen in several decades.


One last thing, a word of advice. Be careful where you go. It was lunch time Saturday so we visited the Mongolian Grill near 114th & Dodge. I noticed going in there was a tobacco shop adjacent to the restaurant. Since I like a good cigar every now and then, I told Lynell I wanted to stop there after lunch. It was a tobacco shop by name, but once inside what I noticed was the funny-shaped pipes of all sizes and very few cigars to choose from. Funny thing — I thought those kinda places closed their doors after the 1970s.