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Raspberry Red Goodness from Mother Earth

Raspberry1The sun is shining and the birds are singing. I notice a few wild raspberries blooming among the shrubbery, and it reminds me of walking with my children happily collecting and eating the berries as we ambled through the countryside. Today we don’t find nearly as many bushes growing untamed along the roads as more construction and fewer farms are seen in my area. Still I wondered where did these berries come from and how did they get here.

There is some archaeological evidence that Paleolithic cave dwellers ate raspberries. Red Raspberry, or Rubus idaeus, is native to Turkey and was gathered by the people living in Troy as early as the first century B.C. Rubus idaeus means bramble bush of Ida named for a nursemaid and the mountains on which they grew in Crete. During the Hellenistic Age they were associated with a Greek fertility myth that the berries were white until Ida, the nursemaid of Zeus, pricked her finger on one of their thorns and stained them red. Later on the Romans conquered vast territories and spread the seed of raspberries throughout their empire as evidenced in archaeological ruins of buildings and forts. These berries are mentioned in the fourth-century writings of Palladius, first Christian bishop of Ireland. During the Middle Ages raspberries were used for food and medicine. Artists employed their red juice in paintings.Only the rich could afford them until King Edward I in England encouraged their cultivation and made them popular in the late 13th century.Raspberry2,pic

The red raspberry may have originally come to North America with the prehistoric peoples crossing the Bering Strait. Explorers arriving in North America found Native Americans eating berries of all kinds. They dried them to use while traveling. European settlers brought seeds and new species of hybrid plants. In 1737 William Prince established the first plant nursery on the continent in Flushing, Queens, NY, and raspberry plants were listed for sale. Estate records from George Washington’s home in Mt. Vernon, dating from 1761, reveal raspberries being cultivated there. One hundred years later, more than forty varieties of raspberries were known throughout America.

Luther Burbank introduced many raspberry hybrids to Americans. He produced a multitude of crosses providing an unlimited variety of qualities. These raspberry plants may be a bush or a vine that grows up to three feet high. Their fruits are ready to eat right off the stems and separate easily by using your fingers, as long as you are careful of the prickly thorns. Wild berries supply food for birds and small animals. Many useful products are gleaned from raspberries: jam, jelly, juice, pies and ice cream. Health benefits are limitless. Raspberries contain high amounts of antioxidants that are believed to fight cancer and heart disease. The high content of Vitamin A, Vitamin B1, B2, and Vitamin C, and Niacin keep our bodies strong. In addition the minerals of calcium, phosphorus, iron and potassium benefit all.

Today more than 70 million pounds of raspberries are sold within one year. So take a walk this spring to see if you can find some of these tasty and healthy raspberries.

Barbara Ann Mojica

Little Miss History

Inspire Us and We Will Inspire Others

The sign at the front of our school reads:

Include Us and We Will Understand, Inspire Us and We Will Inspire Others

As educators, I believe that each of us aspire to be a role-model and a source of inspiration for our students. Today I’d like to share with you the story of one teacher who more than achieves this goal. Maybe her story will incite you to keep on making every effort to inspire your students.

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Ms. Barnes with Gabriel, just one of her many students.

A young boy stands waiting in the wings, legs shaking as his name is announced through loudspeakers. His palms run up and down the sides of his thighs, trying to keep them dry.  This is the moment he’s been thinking about, preparing for, and anticipating for months.  Here it is.  Is he ready?

You can do this, you’ve got this,  he hears her encouraging words repeating over and over in his head. His shoulders rise in a deep breath as he shakes his hands at his sides one last time.   The adrenaline forces his legs up the stairs, onto the stage and over to the mic.  The audience stares, waiting. Panic. Can he do this?  Another deep breath and a shake of his hands to calm his nerves. He spins around to see her sitting there, behind her keyboard.  She smiles, gives him a nod, and mouths the words, “You’ve got this!”  He nods and the music plays. In that moment, all the hours of preparation come together and his performance takes flight.

As his ears fill with applause and cheers, he takes a bow, knowing that he will never forget this moment. Exiting the stage, he glances back at the one who believed in him, and gave him the wings to soar. This smile is just for her, his mentor, his teacher, and his inspiration. She smiles back and bows. Her pride in his performance written all over her face.  But this night, and this moment, didn’t just happen. It is the culmination of vision and sacrifice.

Rewind three months:

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Waiting to perform at the gala!

The anticipated event is the annual Fine Arts Gala.  Each year a dedicated group of educators in our school put on the event to help celebrate the fine arts talents of the students at our elementary school. The evening is billed as a fancy gala. It’s really quite a sight to see; tickets sold to raise money for a charity of choice, h’orderves served by students dressed in their finest, tables and walls filled with the stunning art of students. Yet, the event’s appeal goes well beyond the atmosphere and display; the gala performances are some of the most anticipated events of the year.

The crowd will take their seats, the lights will dim, and the spotlight will shine on each young star.  And who is in the background, hiding behind the keyboard, making sure that each student has that spotlight for the evening? Ms. Barnes, that’s who.  For the last three months there’s been practices sessions with students every recess break, and after school. If one would take note, many youngsters would’ve be seen going to her home to practice into the evening hours. Her commitment doesn’t end there.  Hours of planning and preparation are put in by Ms. Barnes and her committee: meetings, contacting parents, labelling and mounting art, setting up displays, decorating, sound equipment, lights, readying the stage and making sure everything is perfect. All must be ready for the special evening. Ms. Barnes leads her committee to make sure it is.1427464822386

Why?  Because Ms. Barnes loves music and art, but most of all, she loves her students!  Whether it’s for the Fine Arts Gala, Christmas concert, or the annual spring musical, her love is evident and played out in the countless hours she donates freely to encourage, inspire and give her students wings.  In an age when the importance of the arts may sometimes be downplayed, Ms. Barnes seeks to inspire her young students to have no fear when it comes to sharing their talents with the world. She’s not only an extraordinary keyboardist, piano player and teacher; she’s a mentor.  By giving her students wings, she hopes that they, in turn, will inspire others to share their gifts. Watching the dedication and love she gives freely, inspires me to be a better teacher, too.  Thank you, Ms. Barnes for sharing your gifts with all of us!

Want to set up a Fine Arts Gala to inspire the students in your school? Feel free to contact me for more information about how.  Here are the steps we follow to put on the FA Gala at our school:1427421999023

1) Set up auditions.  Students must be committed to a giving a practiced well rehearsed performance. If they don’t practice, they don’t perform.

2) Art club: teachers on the committee agree to supervise art club once/week and guide students to put sketches into the gala.  They are provided with pencils, a sketchbook, and an art eraser.  They will choose one best piece that they want to enter. That will be mounted and displayed in the gala with their name.

3) Open up and supervise the music room for practice and feedback times during recesses and lunch hours.

4) Enlist the older students as servers for the evening.

5) Get the help of  parents to make h’orderves ahead of time and bring them to school on the date.

6) Have classes contribute class art projects to the gala displays.

7) Arrange for sound equipment and someone to do sound for the evening (we have the high school band teacher  help out with this.)

8) Invite other schools to participate.  Our high school student contribute both art and performances for the evening.

Finally, the preparation is done. It’s time to sit back,  and watch the students fly! It really is inspiring!

Listen to Ms. Barnes in action! Here she is working (playing and providing harmony) with a young student, inspiring her to love music and performing.