Celery sticks.

Regular readers of this blog know that I didn’t exactly hold my last principal in the highest of regard.

The fact is that she was a mean-spirited, foolish bully.

I admit that I was on the committee that interviewed her on behalf of the teachers. I admit I recommended her. Go figure. Never trust an interview.

There was the day she came in and announced that there was a new district policy that banned sweets from our school.

We already had a district no-peanut, no hard candy and no home-made baked goods policy.

But understand. Although we had an in-school lunch program, there was no cafeteria. Kids brown-bagged it. No pop machine. No candy machine. We imported pizza one day a week which was sold for a buck and half a slice. Not the healthiest food in the world. But one day a week? No big deal.

And we were already restricted to two holiday parties a year. Just two.

Which two holidays would often lead to lengthy discussions at faculty meetings. Questions like that always do. I don’t know why. Eventually we would settle on Valentine’s Day and Halloween. Spring and Fall. Evenly distributed.

Room moms (sometimes dads) would bring in the treats and plan some party games and activities. The party would be the last hour of the day, the thought being that this would make them less educationally disruptive.

Let’s not kid ourselves. The kids were excited all day.

One year I remember the parents in one fourth grade class organized an architectural activity in which the kids built structures out of Necco wafers, sweetarts, cans of vanilla icing, cup cakes, brownies and dream whip. The results were, as you might imagine, amazing. And the structures lasted not longer than a summer sand castle, destroyed minutes after completion just for the pure joy of it.

But Dr. Grumpy declared all this was now forbidden by district rules. We all doubted the existence of any such rules. We asked for written evidence. None was provided. She told the room parents that any candy that was found would be thrown away. The sweets were to be replaced by carrots, celery sticks and bottles of water.

The parents were skeptical but cooperative.

It did not take long for Dr. Grumpy to discover that a veggie platter large enough for a roomful of students is costly. A real budget buster. So the carrot sticks and celery were replaced by rice crispy treats. Why rice crispies and marshmallow fluff didn’t count as a sugary sweet? None of the faculty could it figure out.

The day of the Halloween Party came. There was something kind of sad about walking into a room full of kids on Halloween, sitting on the floor in full costume (no masks allowed) munching on rice crispy treats and sipping on bottles of water.

There was a debrief following the party. There was a post-mortem. Dr. Grumpy promised a task force to study the issue.

But Spring came. Nothing came of the task force.

We celebrated Valentine’s Day with rice crispy treats and bottles of water.

Dr. Grumpy offered her resignation at the end of this year to pursue other educational goals, the press release said.

Yesterday’s Park Ridge paper had an article about a new district policy.

It could soon become official that children are no longer able to bring treats to school during class parties in Park Ridge-Niles District 64.

The first reading of a policy was approved by the District 64 Board of Education earlier this month. The measure will be up for final approval June 25.

Superintendent Philip Bender said the majority of district schools already have been practicing the measure, but board adoption would make it official.

“A number of schools have opted to get out of the treat piece and move parties more towards a creative type of an event, instead of an eating event,” Bender said.

8 Replies to “Celery sticks.”

  1. I would LOVE to see some pictures of the unhealthy architecture–do you have any for us to view? As for Dr. Grumpy, perhaps she will become a Pearson executive, one who is responsible for determining test questions:

    If a pineapple had two celery sticks for legs, it would:
    A. have two Twix for arms.
    B. have two carrots for arms.
    C. have two carrots for arms & a Rice Krispie treat for hair.
    D. There is no correct answer, just like on many of these inane questions.

  2. I wonder if Principal Grumpy was “encouraged” to institute the treat policy. I am suspicious when the Board statement indicates that a majority of the district schools already had such a policy.

    1. Do you think a majority of the schools had instituted a no-sweets policy by replacing Halloween candy with rice crispy treats. That’s the laugh.

  3. One of my favorite memories of grade school is the parties. We’re talking the mid-60’s-early 70’s here. There were no planned events except handing out Valentines. My classmates and I stuffed our faces with whatever was passed out by individual students; cookies, cupcakes, chocolate, etc. The teacher allowed us to change seats to talk to our friends. It was great! I usually took home a paper bag filled with leftovers to be enjoyed later. My parents didn’t buy this stuff, so parties were a big treat.
    I teach at one of the district schools where treats have been banned for a couple of years now. Well, sort of. The teachers aren’t allowed to give anything to the students. Our PTO went the rice crispy treat and water route too. I felt really sad for the kids because it hardly felt festive to me. Our society’s celebrations and holidays often have a food element to them but I understand the idea behind restricting treats. So many students have allergies and dietary restrictions these days. Our PTO has tried other alternatives, even going so far as to publish the list of ingredients of the treats on their web page before the parties. Maybe we could try having each student bring their own treat for the party?

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