Four burial plots were hollow and ready to be filled just before noon Friday at Millbrooke Elementary School.
Dana Patterson, a fifth grade writing teacher, wore all black along with a veil as she led the procession of students outside.
A somber Beethoven combination played softly on an iPod as she told her students it was the last time she wanted to see words like “ain't” and “gonna” in the their writing assignments.
Patterson hosted a series of “funerals for bad writing habits,” giving the students a chance to rip up the words on index cards and toss them into the ground.
“Teaching it in the classroom works with some kids, but some kids need this hands-on (demonstration),” she said.
One at a time, each student said goodbye to a list of bad grammar and improper sentence structure, like using “because” or “and” at the beginning of a sentence.
Once all the words were in the hole, Ariana Cushenberry, 10, shoveled dirt over them as her classmates pretended to look sad and cry.
Cushenberry said it was weird burying index cards behind the school. Ten-year-old Sydney Frank agreed.
“It was unusual to have a funeral for words we aren’t supposed to use,” she said.
Sydney said “ain't” was the hardest word to let go of because “I use it a lot when I’m talking.”
Bradley Brummett, 10, said he no longer wants to start a sentence with “and,” and he’s excited about learning new ways to write.
Patterson taught second and fourth grades in Georgia for 10 years before relocating to Hopkinsville with her husband and two children.
She got hired at Millbrooke two weeks before school started and pulled the funeral idea from a teacher at her old school.
Patterson said she wanted to nix the bad habits before the year got underway.
“These kids had a lot of bad habits they needed to get rid of,” she said — hopefully, now they’re gone for good.
REACH ZIRCONIA ALLEYNE AT 270-887-3243 or firstname.lastname@example.org.