Phelan: ABC countdown reminds kids school can be fun

Published: Thursday, May 2, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

The end of the school year is coming fast. I know this because of things like prom, graduation speakers and not taking second semester finals (yes!). But when it really hit me was when I received a list from my TA – or teaching assistant – about the ABC countdown. 

For those who don’t know, the ABC countdown is a series of activities done on the last 26 days of school. The countdown takes place at some schools within Geneva School District 304. They usually go from something like America Day, for A, to Zoom Out of School Day, for Z. On America Day, the students dress as patriotic as they can, and might do something like read a book or two about the American Revolution or civil rights reforms of the ’60s. Zoom Out of School day, obviously, is the last day, and is usually spent signing yearbooks and – in my time – having some sort of picnic. 

Other days include Buddy Day, where kids simply bring a stuffed animal, or Crazy Hair Day. Some days, however, are more complex, like Delightful Author Day, or Geneva Field Trip Day. Tuesday was Delightful Author Day, and an author came and read one of his stories to the kids. Geneva Field Trip Day will be spent on a field trip of downtown Geneva. 

I remember my own various ABC countdowns, including making my mom make my hair crazier, or “X-tra” Clean Classroom Day, where we devoted the afternoon to cleaning out our desks and the classroom. I like that it’s a good reminder that school is, in fact, ending soon and also a way to wean kids off their regular schedule. As much as fourth- or fifth-graders complain about long division and waking up early, summer is a big adjustment. Not seeing the same people, not sticking to a routine and possibly changing schools all affect kids in some way or another. Slowly making school less structured – Extra Recess Day or Math Outside Day – makes a summer full of fun seem less dramatic. It also helps remind kids who might be struggling with any end-of-year curriculum pushes that summer is near and that school can be fun. 

I talked to my friend Helen Jacobsen, a foreign exchange student from Germany, and she said that they did something similar back home. They have five “Mottotage,” or motto days, when they dress up on different days to get ready for graduation and summer. They have Hippie Day, Childhood Hero Day and the likes. Helen says that those days are a lot of fun because seniors look ridiculous, kind of like our Rent-a-Senior Day, or my third-grader’s Unmatched Shoes Day. I think it’s neat that their seniors do this at their high school level because I kind of miss having a countdown to summer. But having this is just another reason I’m thankful for TA. 

• Courtney Phelan is a senior at Geneva High School. She is an outgoing and energetic young writer who likes to swim, read and participate in general teenage activities. She can be contacted at editorial@kcchronicle.com.