Wacky wonders inhabit classrooms

By Ellen Wrede 2009

Quiz: What do you call a green, alcoholic, cross-dressing chicken?

A. A joke
B. Crazy
C. Charlene
D. All of the above.

The correct answer is D.

Her caretaker, journalism teacher Brian Winkel, has had many reactions to his pet.

“A lot of people are shocked. I’ve had screams of fear before,” Winkel said.

Winkel is the editor of the newsletter for the Hawkeye Fly Fishing Association, and has given Charlene the job of co-editor so she can have a real job, instead of practicing her alcoholic habit.

A surprisingly naturally green chicken, Charlene was born in Montana and died of overheating in the back of the trunk in which she was being carted back to Iowa.

“We started willing it to members [of the HFFA], and since she came here she’s really never left,” Winkel said. Winkel also writes a monthly column in conjunction with Charlene.

“I ‘talk’ hypothetically to this bird. I’m the straight man, and Char’s the comedy one. It’s kind of fun,” Winkel said.

The walls of Marguerite DeMoss’ class room are plastered with posters. From Kevin Costner to The Beatles, she has quite the collection.

“They’ve been on the wall for a long time. Some of them students have given me, some I have found, some I’ve bought,” DeMoss said.

While a few had to be tossed during the move after the revamp of the English wing, she kept her Brigitte Bardot poster because students complained after she gave it away.

“I guess my favorite would be Johnny Depp. I love all my politically incorrect ones, you know, the ones with cigarettes dangling out of their mouths, and the ones who have died an… inappropriate sort of death. I’m a brave teacher, but even I drew the line at Bob Marley with a joint in his hand,” DeMoss said.

Her posters come from everywhere and anywhere. Most come from local places like the Hill, but her Janis Joplin came directly from San Francisco. “I carried it all the way back from San Francisco on all the different flights, because I didn’t want it to get squashed in my suit case. When I got home, I was down on the Hill and there was the same damn poster!”

While there have been few classroom pets at CF over the past few years, the last ones have been doozies. Take Icky the Iguana, for example. “It was kind of a vicious little thing,” Science teacher Jerry Slykhuis said “We had a wire cage, and it would just crawl through the cage, and get out at night. It’d whip its tail at people.” Icky is now living a happy life in the home of a Cedar Falls custodian.

But Bo the Boa Constrictor was another kind of escape artist.

“One summer I came to water and feed it, and it was gone. I thought someone had stolen it. After that, we didn’t see it for six months. That was in June, and it showed up in January. Some student was out in the back of the room, and all of a sudden he let out a scream and there it was on the bookcase,” Slykhuis said.

Though dehydrated, the snake pulled through and lived for another few years.

A true dust-to-daisies took place last year in the Orchestra room. After rescuing two trees at a local Goodwill, orchestra teacher Scott Hall didn’t know that he was carting them off to a life of luxury.

“Last year the seniors took it upon themselves to move them around the room. Not all the time, but once in a while I would come into the room and notice that the trees had been perched upon the cabinetry or on top of a screen or something. But at the end of the year, they decided to take the Orchestra Tree out for a night on the town. They had fun and took different shots of where the Orchestra Tree had visited around the town.” Hall said.

Although the trees have not gone on any voyages this year, they are still in use. “They are always used for our All-State pictures,” He also noted that students pose for various school projects with the trees.

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