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Calico Cooper in "Thirty Proof Coil."
Calico Cooper in "Thirty Proof Coil."

Coping with scary movies

"Mama" is the scariest movie I’ve ever seen.

Well, it’s really the only scary movie I’ve ever seen.  Executive producer Guillermo del Toro lured me in, as "Pan’s Labyrinth" is one of my very favorite films.  Actors Jessica Chastain and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (well, at least his cheekbones) added incentive to dig deep for some courage to get freaked out.

While it may seem natural that the horror film genre would appeal to what may appear to be my edgier tastes, I am really just a quivering baby when it comes to scary stuff, so I use the wussy technique of avoidance to cope.

I have early memories of my aversion to self-inflicted terror.  I recall childhood visits to ToysRUs with my mother and brothers in early October.  I would excitedly rush through the doors anticipating the Barbie aisle, ignorant of the calendar, only to be faced with a wall covered in gory Halloween masks. 

I can still see the orange floor to ceiling corkboard; stabbed with holes for hooks to hang these twisted latex visages. I would instantly recoil in terror at the very sight of the chilling display, body overcome with shivers and face wet with tears. A magnetic force pulled me into my mother’s body, using her slight frame to shield me from the visual assault of twisted rubber faces. 

The fright lasted for weeks, with me imagining floppy, gooey, dismembered body parts when I would open drawers and closets in what became to me (for a month or so,) my haunted childhood home.

"Mama" brought that all back.   

Just as if a horror director set up the scene, I made the mistake of watching the film alone, in a dark, empty house late at night. The typical fog-flooded, spooky music filled scenes that elicit the following types of phrases echoed in my head,  "No – handsome hero – don’t go in the woods alone on a cold night!"  "No – pretty girl in tight sweater – don’t go into the rundown, cobweb-covered-abandoned Victorian mansion by yourself without a weapon!" 

I en…

Thanks to a recent fundraiser, Lloyd Barbee Montessori students have more creative opportunities.
Thanks to a recent fundraiser, Lloyd Barbee Montessori students have more creative opportunities.

Bringing art and music back into the classroom


Those nonsense, cadenced words accompanied by properly timed claps, symbolized the rhythmic quality of musical notes. They were meant to teach my kindergarten music class to read and understand the more theoretical qualities of song.  

This childhood music class, taught by Mrs. Singer (ironic, eh?), formed the foundation of my love, appreciation and passion for music.  I was sincerely blessed to attend a public elementary school (way back in the ‘80s) that had a visual art program (with its own teacher!), physical education (with its own teacher!) and plenty of affordable after-school theater and dance offerings.

These days, it’s common knowledge that students are lucky if they have some sort of arts education integrated into their mainstream core curriculum by their primary teacher and squeezed somewhere into the busy day.  

The slashing of arts and physical education programs from public schools has been one of the biggest tragedies of recent years.

An alternative for many parents is Montessori education for their children. Montessori is a method of education that gives students the opportunity to learn in multi-age environments within a range of learning modalities. 

The Milwaukee Public Schools system is incredibly unique in that it has seven Montessori Schools including, the North Side's Lloyd Barbee Montessori School.  

Lloyd Barbee principal Catherine Loss explains, "Our Montessori curriculum allows for our teachers to use the arts as a mode for students to learn. They actively participate in the curriculum by ‘doing.’ The students at all age levels are encouraged to share the knowledge that they gain through expression in visual arts as well as singing and presenting about the curricular content areas."

Lloyd Barbee also has an art specialist that visits twice a week, allowing K5-6th grade students to have art programming weekly within their regular class schedule.

Loss says that the…