Stepping out of her second-grade classroom, Lorin Joyner sometimes wonders if she should pull on mittens.

The world outside her Blaney Elementary classroom is a cold one – full of ice, snow and polar bears.

Of course, if she wants to warm up, the desert is just a short walk away. And if students on that hallway get too parched, the rain forest is nearby.

It’s all part of the decor at the Elgin school. Each hallway has been transformed into a region from another part of the world.

Lorin and classmate Lee Zickmund like the arctic scenes in the hallway outside their classroom.

“I like to look at the snowflakes and see the penguins and whales,” Lorin said.

Lee likes the hallway because, “I have a lot of arctic stuff at home.”

Cami Coulter, a kindergarten teacher at Blaney, was on the committee that decided to transform the school into a globe.

“We wanted to beautify the school, but also we wanted to enhance academics,” Coulter said. “We came up with the regions of the world.”

Teachers are creating curriculums to tie in with the murals that decorate the school’s walls. Each class chose a state that had conditions similar to the ones illustrated in the hallway.

Coulter’s committee organized a banquet, during which they solicited support – financial as well as emotional – for the project. They raised almost $9,000 to hire two artists.

In the desert hall, coyotes, camels and rabbits have been painted on the walls. Christmas lights hang from the ceiling to create a “nighttime in the desert” feel.

Does it work? Ask 5-year-old Kyle Lambdin why he likes the coyote painted outside his classroom.

“I like it when it hollers,” he said. Obviously, one of the things the decor encourages is imagination. One way teachers tap into that is by having children write stories about various things in the hallway.

A panda bear frolics outside the guidance counselor’s office. She likes pandas. A monkey with a Band-Aid covering a “boo boo” sits outside the health room.

Kyle, a dinosaur fan, also likes the “big lizard” down the hall. He also likes seeing the snake in the tree in the rain forest on his way to the lunchroom.

“Children actually think it’s raining when rain drops fall off the ceiling,” Principal Rose Sheheen said, referring to the big blue rain drops dangling off the ceiling of the rain forest.

Lorin and Lee almost shiver every time they walk into the hall. Both said they’d like to visit the real Arctic one day.

And they know how they would stay warm.

“I’d wear my mittens,” Lee said.

Lezlie Patterson covers Richland District 1, Lexington District 4 and schools in Lugoff and Elgin. Call her at 771-8308, Tuesday- Friday, or by fax at 771-8430. {JUNK} input file to flt1 is: /asst/dewar/0123/

PHOTO: BWLee Zickmund and Lorin Joyner, second-grders at Blaney Elementary, show off their polar projects, inspired by the `arctic’ hallway outside their classroom at the Elgin school. LEZLIE PATTERSON/ THE STATE

January 23, 1997  State (published as The State)  Columbia, South Carolina
Page 58
January 23, 1997  State (published as The State)  Columbia, South Carolina
Page 65

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