Weatherford Democrat

December 19, 2013

Tree-trimming tradition

Curtis students carry on tradition of placing food in trees as gifts to animals while learning about literature


Weatherford Democrat

— By SALLY SEXTON

As a long-time educator, Helen Spivey has crafted many lessons and traditions in her years at Weatherford ISD.

The librarian at Curtis and Tison for many years before becoming a mentor to incoming teachers and retiring in 2000, Spivey has now created a new tradition — one that combines reading, family and students.

One of Spivey’s favorite books, especially around the holidays, is “Night Tree” by Eve Bunting. The story revolves around a young boy and his family who decorate their favorite tree with popcorn, apples, tangerines and sunflower-seed balls as a gift for the animals of the woods.

With the help of Curtis librarian Shawna Ford and Spivey’s daughter, Tonya Van Loh and daughter-in-law, Diane Spivey, both teachers at Curtis, the tradition was spawned, as three classrooms of students were read “Night Tree” last week. On Wednesday, the book was brought to life, as the students brought Cheerios, Fruit Loops, bread, crackers and more as an offering to the animals. The classes trouped up a hill behind the campus, picking out their own treat to decorate.

The classes trouped up a hill behind the campus, picking out their own treat to decorate.

Wednesday was Spivey’s first return to the area since her stint at Curtis almost 20 years ago.

“We just went up there and decorated with pecans, peanut butter, oranges and apples and bread crumbs. The kids loved it,” she said. “It’s really about helping them to learn to love literature and, in this case, the animals get to have their own Christmas dinner.”