It turns out that tree frogs can’t jump. Many years ago when I was a new Leadership teacher at Yale Secondary in Abbotsford BC the class came up with a great idea for a lunch activity. We would have a frog jumping contest in the gym. So the promotions began. We gave the frogs the names Rufus and Max. We put up posters for each with their Tale of the Tape like boxers listing their strengths and weaknesses. We had Rufus’s camp accuse Max of steroid use to reach the top. There were insults and accusations in the spirit of WWE. Students were invited to come down to the gym and pick a winner by sitting in the bleacher of who they thought would be victorious. Winning bleacher got candy and prizes. We even had a photographer coming from the local paper to report on the event.
Then plan was to just catch some frogs and use them at lunch. Turns out we were still in hibernating time. Remember my area was leadership, and obviously not biology. Leadership student Michelle volunteered to go the day before to the pet store and get us some frogs which she would happily give a good home when we were done. About an hour after school I hear an announcement that I have a phone call (pre cell phone era). It is Michelle.
“Mr. Dickson, the only frogs they have are tree frogs and they cost $40 each. What should I do?”
“It’s okay, buy the frogs. Tons of kids are expecting a show tomorrow and the press is coming.”
“Allright Mr. Dickson, I will be there before school tomorrow with the frogs.”
Life is good. The frogs will be there and the world will be a happier place.
The next morning I arrive at the Leadership room and find Michelle sitting outside the door with a cover over what looks like a cage. In her quiet early morning voice she says words I will never forget. “Mr. Dickson, tree frogs can’t jump.”
Oh crud … tons of kids in the gym … the press is coming!
“But Mr. Dickson, my mom said we could use our hamsters and put them in these plastic balls made for roaming and they could race.” Thank goodness for Moms.
Now I have an idea. These are not hamsters. They are in fact Australian Hairy Frogs. I ask my Leadership partner, Ms. Thomson (Australian exchange teacher) what she thinks. She smiles and starts to tell the story of how Aboriginal youth would have to catch a famed Australian Hairy Frog in the wild to become a man.
Lunch time – the gym is full with fans choosing their champion – the newspaper photographer is there – we are ready.
Ms. McDonald, biology teacher, briefly explains the genus, species, and habitat of the Australian Hairy Frog. Ms. Thomson shares the proud legacy of Aboriginal youth becoming men by catching these noble creatures.
Max and Raoul are placed in their balls. The starter yells go. Max takes off in a blaze but Rufus doesn’t move. I motion for Michelle to give his ball a tap. Sadly, with adrenaline running high, Michelle kicks the ball, the lid comes off, and Rufus comes flying out. Everyone gasps as the photographer takes pictures. I quickly call a false start. The race begins again. Max wins a clean race. To be fair Rufus may have been a bit dizzy. Students had fun and there was a great picture in the paper. To this day there may be some former Yale students who still believe in the existence of the Australian Hairy Frog.
Leadership Advisor lessons learned
- Plan and get supplies much sooner to be properly prepared.
- If you can’t fix it feature it. Bring out the Australian Hairy Frogs and make it a party
Leadership Activity Idea
Coloring in the cafeteria
Our leadership students chose a bunch of different images to color and we printed them out on 8.5×11 sheets. They ranged from Sponge Bob to Care Bears to the Avengers. They laid them out on tables in our upper cafeteria with crayons and invited others to join them coloring. In the background we had funky music going. There were about 75 students coloring. After the event several of our leadership students hung up their best coloring in the leadership room. A simple activity that involved lots of students.
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