Wednesday, December 01, 2004


We lived at 224 East Savidge Street during my childhood. Ian Lawton of Christ Community Church now preaches in the general vicinity of where our family kitchen once existed. I walked to Holmes school everyday and, on occasion, had time to walk home for lunch in those days.

I can still recall the names of all my elementary teachers. School was a comfortable place for me. Mrs. Fothergill taught one of several fifth grade classes in 1963 and I was fortunate to be among the 30 students in her class. I remember only a few things about that year, however.

One of her requirements was that each student invests in a quality fountain pen for her penmanship lessons. She wanted us to master the art of cursive penmanship and an appropriate tool for the trade was essential. Iím not convinced, however, that my motor skills ever developed to sustain the high expectations she maintained for me. Letís just say that math remained my favorite subject.

I canít reflect upon that year without a vivid recall of the frozen moment on November 23 when news of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy was shared with the student body. We were stunned. Iíll never forget the broadcast throughout the new high school where fifth grade band students were preparing to rehearse.

One other significant fifth grade event remains lodged in my memory. Mrs. Fothergill invited her students to her house for a Christmas party. This lady was okay! She actually had a life outside of Holmes School and was willing to share part of it with us. We were asked to get dressed up for the evening and enjoy a few hours in her home--so cool.

It was the recall of that event, not any great penmanship lesson, which prompted me to begin a tradition when I started teaching: my home would be open to my class for a holiday gathering each year. And once again, students will join the Chittenden family on Brown Lane in Spring Lake for a special Christmas potluck next Thursday evening.

Mrs. Fothergillís penmanship passion didnít seem to help me much (I decided to take typing in summer school after sixth grade). However, her lesson of selfless benevolence and holiday cheer reminds me to ďpay it forwardĒ this time of year. If you think you can survive a flash to the past, click HERE to view a photo of her class online. Be careful, you might just find someone you know. Happy holidays!


At 9:33 AM, Anonymous said...

Hey Mr. Chittenden,
Its me Leighlyn Jacobs, 4 years ago you had a 4th 5th split, I havent seen you around much so I figured I leave you a post.
Your math classes really helped Because im in geometry and im in 9th grade, i say the blog name and I hoped you would still have a memory of our class.

Thank you,
Leigh Jacobs


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