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Word play for a holiday
Lesson brings poetry, puns to classroom
Valentines Program 9 es
A pizza box is used to collect cards. - photo by Emily Saunders
Pink and red boxes of all shapes and sizes lined the outside of Elfriede DiMola’s fourth-grade classroom Thursday at Chattahoochee Elementary.

Sawyer Kovacs watched as a classmate tried to fit a candy valentine into his LEGO block box with the words, “LEGO my heart.”

In keeping with the fourth-grade curriculum, the class studied puns and poems for the holiday unit.

DiMola asked her students to make boxes that had a pun written on them for the cards.

Madison Kupper made the tin man from “The Wizard of Oz,” who displayed a sign with the words, “Be my Valentine and give me your heart.”

Bella Caracciolo made an alligator covered in pink and red hearts and the saying, “I’d snap at the chance to be your Valentine.”

Kovacs said it was the first time the students had studied puns.

A poetry recital was the main attraction for parents, who crowded the classroom to hear their children rhyme about chocolate cake, spaghetti, maps and shyness.

“The poems come in little parts called ... stanzas, so it’s not that hard to memorize,” said Harlan Stokes, who paused for the word his teacher reminded him of.

Standing in front of self-painted backdrops, the children rolled off the syllables of their chosen poems in groups.

Two boys reciting a poem called “Shy” got a little “star struck,” said DiMola, cueing some of the words from the side of the classroom.

When the poems ended, a sugar-fest of cupcakes, cookies, lollipops and juice boxes commenced.

For most of the boys, it was all about the candy.

Like many of his male classmates, Pablo Sanchez thought Valentine’s Day was a good holiday for everyone to get cards and candy.

Sanchez stuck mostly to sweets, though. He said he ate six cupcakes and cookies.

“That’s why I feel so good,” he said.

But the boys agreed that once you grow up, the holiday isn’t as great without the classroom exchange.

“The only reason I like Valentine’s Day is the candy,” Stokes said.

The girls thought it was a day for boys to do special things for the girls in their lives.

“We do everything,” Kupper said. “It’s their turn to do something for us.”

Though Kovacs piled his plate with the heart-shaped, red and pink sweets, he had a different take on the holiday.

“It brings people together,” Kovacs said. “If there’s nothing to bring people together, there would be hatred every day.”

None of his classmates are dating, said Kovacs, adding that having girlfriends in other classes or who attend different schools would probably work better.

“It’s best if it’s not in the classroom,” he said.

Kupper has a friend in class who’s a boy, but he’s not her boyfriend.

When making her cards for the class, she drew special hearts for all the girls and her guy friend. The other boys got hearts with arrows on them.

She hand-made her valentines, which her mother, Christina Kupper, said took about four days.

“She cooks constantly, and she hand-makes everything,” said her mother, adding that her daughter doesn’t go for store-bought things.

“It’s more special if it’s handmade,” the daughter said.

The children in the class didn’t have any requirements for bringing in cards, as long as everyone in the class got an equal one.

Madison Kupper thanked Kovacs for his homemade valentine.

On top of every card box sat a fun foam heart with a fuzzy ball and googly eyes with the phrase “Be mine.”

Underneath the heart, the name of the sender, Sawyer, had been scrawled.

“It’s actually quite easy to love people,” Kovacs said.