On Monday, April 10th, a sweet, South Georgia spring morning greeted Deerfield Windsor's seventh grade students as they boarded a bus headed for the shade-dappled grounds of the Pilcher residence. Upon their arrival, students were greeted by brightly decorated tables and the warm smiles of hostess, Joy Pilcher, and volunteer event planner extraordinaire, Hilary Bennett. Teachers divided the 56 seventh graders into small, 14-person groups, and the first annual Year-in-Review Festival commenced with a picnic lunch provided by Herb Miller and his wonderful cafeteria staff and served by dedicated parent volunteers beneath the sprawling limbs of Live Oaks.
After their repast, student groups congregated at the first of four different academic stations, each designed to challenge their knowledge of a skill learned over the course of the 2016-17 school year. With Coach Davis, students became architects and laid out the floor plan of an imaginary San Francisco apartment using area, perimeter, scale, and ratio equations. The apartment's design came from details gleaned from one of the novels students read as part of their English Literature class. Other works of literature were also called to mind as students assumed the persona of a favorite character and presented memorized passages of significance to Mrs. Lacovara. Some of the selections included Shane by Jack Schaefer, "The Black Cat" by Edgar Allan Poe, "All Summer in a Day" by Ray Bradbury, The Time Machine by H.G. Wells, West of the Moon by Margi Preus, and The Treasury of Norse Mythology by Donna Jo Napoli. Mrs. McGee challenged students to locate each type of taste bud on their tongues (sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and umami) and to guess the flavor of a jelly bean while blind-folded and pinching their noses, illustrating how taste and olfactory senses work in concert. Coach Pace facilitated a lively Harkness Discussion in which he posed the question, if next year's seventh grade students could only learn about one historical figure, which one should it be and why? Students debated such icons as Adolph Hitler, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Martin Luther King Jr., and Winston Churchill.
Rounding out the day was a dizzy bat relay race. Students lined up with their fellow group members, raced across an expanse of lawn, bent over and pressed their foreheads to the butt of a baseball bat, spun five times in a circle, and then had to right themselves and try their best to run in a straight line back to their team. Amongst staggers, falls, and belly-splitting laughter, Svaalberd (a.k.a. Harrison Smith dressed as the hump-backed goat man from Preus's West of the Moon) lurched through the grass bringing the suspenseful, cross-country chase from the novel to life. A teacher could not ask for a more fitting finale to a successful school year!