Students at Denham Springs Junior High School laid to rest on Thursday their dear but overused words.
The funeral featured a gathering with a small casket filled with “dead words,” eulogies about the words that have been eliminated from their writing and vocabularies, a flower wreath and a jazz second-line.
“Today, I have the honor of sharing my thoughts and memories of my close friend, ‘mad,’ ” said sixth-grade student Alexandria Riel, as she addressed classmates. “ ‘Mad’ was born April 19, 874, and passed Oct. 2 at 3:44 p.m. ‘Mad’ spent most of his life hanging around when people were arguing, losing their jobs and yelling. It (mad) messed up proper writing by making normal sentences boring and lifeless.”
About 300 students participated in the project, which included selecting an overused word and writing a eulogy about its time used in the English language.
Alexandria said the project was designed by sixth-grade teachers to prompt students to use more creative words.
“And, that makes the writing more creative,” Alexandria said.
The students worked on the project for about a week before the actual funeral took place, Alexandria said.
“It (the project) brings a little more creativity to our school work,” she said. “It puts (the point of using other words) into my brain.”
Talia McDonald was happy to bury the word “pretty.”
The sixth-grader said, “A lot of people tell me how pretty I look. They’re pretty, too, but I don’t tell them because I’m afraid inside because I don’t really know what to say.”
Instead of using the word “pretty,” Talia said she will now use words like “exquisite,” “beautiful” and “gorgeous.”
“It (this project) can actually help us by showing us we are professionals instead of using little words,” Talia said.
“Using bigger words can actually help in your writing,” she said.
While the funeral only lasted about 30 minutes, many of the students said the experience will last a lifetime.
“I can be more experienced by using everyone else’s new words,” Talia said. “I learned more by doing the (hands-on) exercise. Overall, the experience was wonderful.”
For Principal Bryan Wax, the project, now in its second year, fell perfectly into the spirit of Halloween, and gave students a chance to do something besides simply dressing up in their favorite Halloween costumes.
To emphasize the severity of the occasion, teachers donned all black and wore black partial veils over their faces.
Many of the students also donned black attire for the occasion, and Mayli Morgan actually placed Vicks Vapor rub underneath her eyes, which made her cry throughout the event.
“I get more aggravated when the teachers just tell us what to do,” Mayli said. “But, if I’m free to do what I want to do, I feel more dramatic and get more excited about it.”
Mayli chose “funny” as her word and said from now on she will replace it with “jovial,” “farcical” and “laughable.”