All six showed up in the crowded cafeteria, where similar groups from twenty-six other schools were finding their places at parallel-parked cafeteria tables. The alternate, instructed that he might have to participate if someone got a case of the nerves, went to sit with his mother. One final pep talk, and the coaches--librarians all--were directed to move to the sidelines.
The emcee, humorous and motivational, called the students to attention. First, the practice question, to make sure the students knew how to follow the directions and use the voting clickers.
Then the game was on. Battle of the Bluebonnets, and only one team can be the winner.
I watched as the heads of the third, fourth, and fifth graders on our team instantly huddled whenever the new question came to the screen. Animated whispering, lots of head nodding, and numbers being flashed on their fingers.
Wait, numbers? If I can see them, so can opposing teams! I caught the eye of one of the players, and motioned for her to tell the others to put their hands down! She complied and returned to huddling. But their hands would not stay down!
For a tense forty-five minutes I watched the team as they answered each question, trying to gauge if they got the right answers. After forty questions, the results were tabulated. We were not in the final four, who had tied with one error apiece. Four tie-breaker rounds later, the winners were announced.
I passed out our group's participation medals and told them how proud I was of their teamwork. I got a resounding "yes" when I asked if it was fun and if they were going to try out again next year. And then I had to ask about the hand signals. Did they know how obvious they were?
Their reply? "Mrs. Margocs, we were flashing the wrong answers, on purpose, to trick the others!"
My wonderful, smart, sneaky students. Gotta love 'em!