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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Art (01/18/07)

TITLE: Change The Word
By Noreen Ophoff


Audrey May Allen was in the fourth grade at Holy Angels Catholic School in Ravensdale Michigan. Her teacher was Mrs. Armstrong.

One day, Mrs. Armstrong announced she wanted her class to draw a picture of a sailboat on a lake. She drew one first on the blackboard with chalk, so her pupils had an idea of what she expected. She said the best ones would be hung on the bulletin board for Parent's Night, to be held the following Friday evening.

Audrey May took out her colored pencils and studied the large piece of Mrs. Armstrong had passed out. She first drew the sand like it looks at the shore of Lake Michigan, with flat places and some sand mounded up into hills. Then she drew blue water with little tufts of white on some of the waves. Onto the water she drew a red boat with a straight brown mast and a yellow sail billowing just a little bit in a breeze. She put a yellow sun in the top left corner of the paper, and little "v" shapes for birds flying in the blue sky. Audrey May signed the bottom right hand corner just like Mrs. Armstrong showed them.

Soon they were into Spelling, and Arithmetic and Reading, and then the day was over.

The next morning Audrey May noticed some pictures were hung on the main bulletin board in the classroom, but she was terribly disappointed her picture wasn't there. Terrence's picture was there, even though it had an eraser mark on it and a little hole in the paper. Gloria's drawing was up, because Gloria's drawings always made it up on the bulletin board. Irene's picture was up and Wayne's, and Mark's and Sandy's.

When the kids were settled in their desks, Audrey May raised her hand and asked, "Mrs. Armstrong, why isn't my sailboat picture up on the bulletin board? Terrence's picture has an eraser mark on it and a hole in the paper, but mine doesn't?"

Mrs. Armstrong's face got red, and she replied, "Audrey May, Terrence is going to be an engineer when he grows up, so he will be drawing all the time, he needs the encouragement now to keep drawing. And before you ask about the others, let me tell you, Gloria is going to make women's dresses, and Irene is going to teach school, Wayne wants to be a pilot, Mark wants to be a builder, and Sandy wants to be a painter. They all need to be encouraged now to draw because they will always be drawing."

Audrey May then asked, "What am I going to be when I grow up?"

Mrs. Armstrong didn't have an answer, so she shrugged her shoulders. So Audrey May said, "Mrs. Armstrong, I'm 9 years old. Just because Wayne says he wants to be a pilot now doesn't mean he's going to be one. Last year I wanted to be a grandmother or a horse, are you going to give me oats and hay?" Audrey May continued, "I think all the pictures should be up for Parent's Night, not just a few from the kids you like best. I want my picture hung up too."

Then all the other kids yelled out they wanted their pictures hung up too. The angry teacher remarked, "There isn't time for me to hang all the pictures. I've decided which ones, and that's final."

Audrey May said, "My sister, Christine, is in 8th grade, she'll come in here after school and hang up my picture and the other kids pictures too."

Mrs. Armstrong was so upset by this little girl who was usually very shy, that she just said, "Okay."

All the other little budding artists in the room smiled.
On Parent's Night each Mom and Dad beamed at their own child's sailboat drawing, and each child was proud of their own efforts. Audrey May was especially proud of herself, because she had stood up for something she believed in, even though she was usually very shy and quiet. She proved to herself that she could change the world.

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This article has been read 480 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Julie Arduini01/25/07
Yea for the Audrey Mays in the world! This was very sweet.
Sandra Petersen 01/30/07
I wonder how many children who want so badly to be a good artist are discouraged by a teacher like Mrs. Armstrong. I agree, nine years old is too young of an age for kids to be put on a career path.

I wasn't sure if Audrey was right in confronting the teacher in front of the entire class. That was the only thing that made me a little uncomfortable with this story. But that's just my opinion.

Your descriptions were very good. You set the scene so that I felt as if I were in that classroom with Audrey.