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Saturday, December 14, 2013

Too Many Papers to Grade. Farpoint Cadet Meeting. Saturday at the Space Center. New Galileo Mission. Crew Romances Allowed? Connor L Pulls Double Duty. The Imaginarium.

I think I put off grading my 6th graders papers a bit too long

Hello Troops,
     I got up early this morning to grade a skyscraper of assignments I'd been putting off for the last two weeks.  "Holiday cheer," is my excuse when confronted by my 6th graders.  To be honest,  I'm struggling with predictable ADD.  The condition strikes whenever I'm faced with grading writing assignments.  It's also a matter of integrity.  Do I grade their writing honestly, or do I show some degree of mercy and ignore the obvious to bolster their self esteem? If I was honest, it would take one Bic red pen per paper.  Who's going to pay for that?  Besides, such an undertaking would rival the construction of the Hoover Dam in scope.  After two papers,  my ADD would surface requiring a remedy consisting of hours of irresponsible, brain numbing activities.  I could be lost to the TV for the rest of the day!
     "Mr. Williamson, you're exaggerating," you say.   OK, I confess; I may have stretched things a bit in the paragraph above.  To be honest, they really are a sharp group of kids who write reasonably well for their age.  In fact, here are two poems written by one of my students while I was teaching or lecturing or sleeping at my desk.  She calls it her anti-bullying poem.

She makes me feel,
Like I don’t belong,
Go home and cry,
Sing a sad song,

No way to escape,
This verbal beating,
When she strikes,
There is no retreating,

Whenever she looks,
What does she see?
Why does she feel,
Burning rage toward me?

She’s hated me,
From the day we first met,
But the only way to survive,
is to forgive and forget.

And then there's this poem on being who you are

I’ve tried my hardest,
I’ve done my best,
With some mistakes along the way,
But I never ever listen,
To what the critics have to say.

Do what you want,
Whatever you like,
It’s your life - not theirs,
Say anything, do anything,
Wear ripped jeans, dye your hair.

There’s nothing you can’t do in this world,
They can’t take away your choice,
You’ve got individuality,
You’ve got you’re own voice.

Listen to the voice inside, listen now to me,
Be happy with who you are,
Be proud of yourself,
Be who you were meant to be.

By: Alli

I'd like to take credit for this, being her language arts teacher and all, but feel it wouldn't be honest to take credit for a born talent (unless of course, the state unexpectedly institutes a merit pay scheme for teachers in the next legislative session. If that happens, then I'll claim she couldn't write her name or hold a pencil when she came to me in August).

Mr. W.

Farpoint Club Meeting

Nearly thirty Farpoint Voyagers meet in my classroom this morning. It was an awesome gathering of young minds and developing characters. The Farpoint Club's curriculum is STEAM based: Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math. Today we focused on the "E"ngineering and design of a starship simulator. The Great and Powerful Kyle Herring (a legend in his own mind) was the instructor. Megan Warner, CMSEC Director, played the part of the warm up band. We discussed the good, the bad, and the disasters of designing a simulator. The cadets were issued graph paper, pencils and rulers. Their assignment is to design the perfect simulator. Kyle will take their ideas into consideration as we start the process of designing our first ship at Renaissance Academy - the Vanguard. If you're not a Farpoint Cadet, may I ask what's wrong with you? Everybody should be a member, at least everybody who is anybody.

Mr. W. 

Saturday at the Christa McAuliffe Space Education Center (In Pictures)

  I made my usual Saturday rounds checking on our Farpoint volunteers at both the Discovery Space Center and the Christa McAuliffe Space Education Center. We didn't have anyone assigned to the DSC so today's pictures all come from the CMSEC. 

My Last Class of Central Students Flew in the Odyssey Today

Several of my former math students celebrated a birthday at the Space Center today.  It was good to see them and hear that they're all doing well in their 7th grade math classes at PG Junior High.  They're pictured in the CMSEC's new Odyssey simulator.  What a sharp group of young men - a credit to their families and the school.  They were in my last class (my 30th math class) at Central School.  

Bracken Funk Prepares to Run a Test Mission

     Yes troops, the Continuing Great and Powerful Funk wrote a new Galileo mission called "Snow Dagger".  Two test missions were run today.  I stopped by to watch the mission briefing in preparation to fly the mission myself over the Christmas holiday as the Captain of the Galileo.  Yes, you heard it first here on The Troubadour.  I will be the Captain of the Galileo for Bracken Funk's new mission!  It will be the first time I've ever (and I mean ever) been a crew member on a mission.  I've always been the person behind the scenes with the microphone.  Isn't it strange that I'm the only person who has ever worked at the Space Center who has never been on a mission as crew?  How weird is that?

     Megan Warner looks calm as a cucumber in the photo above.  She's not in the hot seat.  She isn't the one telling a new story with no tactical or video.  She's not the one who has to keep a test crew entertained, while at the same time get through a new mission - a mission you yourself don't know very well.
     Bracken, on the other hand, looks the part of Flight Director with little to no sleep, mentally preparing himself for the game.  

     Bracken's somewhat daring and overly confident crew of Farpoint Volunteers waiting patiently in the hallway for the second telling of "Snow Dagger".  Excitement and fear is easily read on their faces (either that, or someone is reacting to a obnoxious odor for an overly excited cadet finding it difficult to keep it all together).

Dave Daymont and Farpoint Cadet Matthew M.,  Join Their Talents to Fly the Phoenix     

 It was the Dave and Matthew show today in the Phoenix.  These two modern Troubadours performed for an excited and almost focused crew of 11 year old boys who really wanted to blow things up whenever the chance for diplomacy came up.  "What can you do?" Dave sighed.  "You can lead a crew to the peace table, but you can't keep 'em from blasting away."  

Are Crew Romances Allowed at the Space Center?

Jon Parker (left) and Farpoint Cadet JT (right) look up at their ship camera monitor and see one adult male member of their crew with his hands on the shoulder's of another adult female crew member.
"Do you see that?" I asked.
"I see it," Jon replied.
"Well, what are you going to do about it?  What kind of a ship do you run?" I asked, questioning his abilities as a flight director.
"They are adults," Jon added.
I acknowledged his observation, then added the obvious. "But don't you see his hands on her shoulders?  This is a Starfleet military ship and they are on duty.  Starfleet command wouldn't stand for this kind of crew familiarity.  Something should be done."
"Captain Kirk?  Star Trek?  Are you kidding me?" Jon shot back.
I surrendered to his logic and left the control room.  

Magellan Flight Director Pulls Double Duty.  Flight Director and Night Watchman

Connor has just been woken up in his flight director's chair.  His crew is nearly trained and ready to fly the mission "Death Trap".  Connor makes his financial ends  meet by pulling double duty - flight director and night watchman at the CMSEC.
"I've got everything I need right here," he explained.  "This is my blanket - notice the Christmas theme. I've got one for every season."


"This is my fridge with a soda and a frozen pizza.  Paper towels keep my meals from spilling onto the equipment when I eat,"  Connor explained.


"These are my friends who keep me company during the long nights when I'm here alone.  It's nice to have someone to talk to.  It can get lonely in this school at night when you're by yourself."

"Do I miss my family?  Sometimes, but we keep in touch by email.  Look what I made a few nights ago when I couldn't sleep.  It's my Christmas Star.  Kinda holidays up the place."


"What's the tape for?" I asked.
Connor replied, "Well, this corner of the control room is my home away from home and I believe everyone needs their own personal space.  This tape is the border between Connorland and the Land of the Lost.  No one, except those with collared shirts, may cross this border.  It keeps this area special.  It keeps 'them' (spoken while shifting his eyes toward the others in the room dressed in black) out of my personal space and from breathing my air."

Them (except for Jacque in the blue collared shirt). Notice their primitive working and living conditions.
No fridge, no paper towel use and definitely no frozen pizza, blankets or holiday cheer.

Connor has successfully slept through two burglaries, a burst pipe, and seven acts of vandalism.  Keep up the good work Connor!

The Imaginarium
The ordinary turned extraordinary (like I did with Connor's story above)


Ever have one of those days?

A Portal Christmas Tree

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