Word parade

MAKING GOOD ON YOUR WORD: Fourth-grader Abby Webster shows off a hat she created depicting the word “abdomen.” She randomly drew the word as part of a vocabulary parade at Northwestern Elementary School where students from kindergarten to sixth-grade made hats and took part in a unique day of learning inspired by a book about vocabulary.

You don’t often hear cheering for vocabulary words.

Of course, you don’t often dress up and put on a parade with them, either.

That’s what students at Northwestern Elementary School did Monday, participating in the school’s first vocabulary parade.

Kindergarten children wore costumes of words including rabbit, cheerleader, princess and linebacker, while first-, second- and third-graders made headbands with a vocabulary word and illustration on it. Fourth-graders and sixth-graders made elaborate hats to demonstrate their words, such as “cascade,” with a hat of curling purple and white ribbons topped with multi-colored balloons.

Principal Ron Owings said only fifth-graders did not participate, with a field trip already scheduled. The fourth-graders and sixth-graders clustered in a circle in the middle of the multipurpose room, while the rest of the students lined the walls, creating an open marching path for the parade.

Kindergartners marched first, led by teacher Kimberly Maynard, who wore a long hot pink wig to demonstrate the word “shiny.”

A group of her small charges carried a banner with words written on drawings of popcorn, vocabulary words that “keep popping up” in their class, Maynard said.

Each of her students wore a costume and a pink or blue placard, with a word written in crayon on it.

Nathan Bennett’s card said “tight end,” and he wore an Indianapolis Colts jersey with Dwight Freeney’s number on it. Austin Marshall had a Tony Stewart outfit on, demonstrating his vocabulary word, “driver.”

“I really like Tony Stewart and NASCAR,” he said.

Taylor Goerges wore a pink Cinderella T-shirt and a fuzzy pink crown, as the word “princess.”

“I’m a princess and a pop star,” she said, explaining her costume.

Grace Dix dressed as a rabbit, with fuzzy pink ears, and Maddie Mobley wore a red dress with black print, with black tights, as a lady bug.

Students cheered each grade loudly, and Owings used hand signals to let them know which grade was ready to parade, rather than shouting above the noise.

The hats grew more elaborate with each grade — one student was a “nutrient,” with plastic fruit attached to his hat.

The final marchers, who drew the loudest applause and dog barking cheers, were the teachers, including sixth-grade teacher Randy Lindgren, wearing a hat with the word “geriatrics” on it, and fourth-grade teacher Todd Miller, with a hat sprouting plastic Easter eggs, for the word “egghead.”

Owings said the parade teaches vocabulary and replaces dressing up for Halloween. He said fourth-grade teacher Jenny Grzgorski suggested the vocabulary parade, after reading about it in a book called “Miss Alaineus: A Vocabulary Disaster,” by Debra Frasier.

“It’s a fun way to learn a new word or new words.”

Danielle Rush may be reached at (765) 454-8585 or via e-mail at


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