Stephanie Sawchuk, a third-grader at Sunrise Elementary School in the Central Valley School District, stood up from the table and twirled, showing off her long gown of white and pink ruffles.
Dressing up in their finest gowns and suits isn’t something students do at the school unless it’s an occasion. The third-grade classes at the school held a Fairy Tale Ball last Thursday.
Eric Kramer, one of the four third-grade teachers, said this is the third year the school has celebrated the Fairy Tale Ball. The meal and occasion goes hand-in-hand with the curriculum – the students are studying fairy tales in class.
Kramer said students study and compare various versions of the “Cinderella,” including the European folk tale, Walt Disney’s “Cinderella” and the Chinese “Yeh-Shen.”
Students also have a chance to write their own fairy tales as part of the unit. Kramer said each student works on developing a protagonist and antagonist – a hero and a bad guy – plus they create their own settings and write dialogue for their characters.
Last week’s ball was the culmination of the classroom unit. Parents made and served the food, dressed in black pants and white shirts. There were ham and turkey finger sandwiches with the crusts trimmed off, fruit kabobs, deviled eggs, vegetable trays and even cream puffs for dessert.
Before the ball, Kramer said he and the three other third-grade teachers, Rita Negretti, Carol Sippola and Julie Fayant, discussed table manners and etiquette.
“Like at every fancy-schmancy event you’ll have a place card,” Kramer told his students before the ball, noting they shouldn’t switch their cards to a different spot.
“Say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ and ‘no, thank you,’ ” said student Bryce Folsom as he pulled a chunk of cantaloupe from its stick with his teeth. “It’s a nicer way to ask for things.”
Many of the students took the fancy-dress rule seriously. Boys donned jackets and ties, some wore top hats and more than a few carried walking sticks.
The girls put their hair up and wore low-heeled shoes with their ball gowns. Samantha Brown, who wore a tiara and carried a sparkling wand, also wore gloves, which she placed next to her plate.
“Our reading subject is fairy tales,” Samantha said. “I can’t really choose, but I think ‘Cinderella’ is probably my favorite.”
Stephanie said her favorite fairy tale is the “Three Little Pigs,” probably because when she was very little she got a stuffed pig as a present.
“That’s what made me love pigs my whole life,” she said.
Kramer said the third grade used to have a similar ball with the Titanic as a theme. When the curriculum changed a few years ago, the Titanic wasn’t taught until the fourth grade, so they switched to a fairy tale theme.
He said parents have been planning this event for the last month. One grandmother decorated clear plastic cups by gluing plastic jewels around the outside – enough for about 100 students. Parents also worked hard to decorate the rooms.
“Our parent help is exceptional,” Kramer said. “We just have great parents.”