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My first Graland carnival in 1977 was not called the eighth-grade carnival. We never had a ferris wheel, but there were always many booths and games-- as well as the jail and the teacher dunk. I shall never forget the teacher dunk, for Don Oberndorf, the Director of Development at that time, told me that all new teachers were expected to volunteer for that event. I panicked -- as was my bent in those days-- and ran to Tuck Ganzenmuller’s office grandly announcing, “I won’t do it!” That wonderful, engaging man stared at me and said, “Do what?” I told him; he laughed and laughed. Yes, Don, that prankster, had succeeded in riling me up. It was not an expectation. I did love the used book sales and the Corner Kitchen where I could buy food prepared by the Parent Council parents.

“The carnival,” Ms. Fetter writes, “probably evolved from the old May Day celebrations or school fairs.” The carnival we know today began in the 1970’s and was a fundraiser for the ninth grade Washington trip -- now, a seventh-grade trip.  

I can’t end this memory piece without quoting Tom Rice, the man I call Sir Thomas of Aurora, the man I believe is the most gifted history teacher during my Graland years: “One of the biggest moneymakers, when I ran the carnival, was the jail. If you want to put somebody in jail, you just buy a ticket for a quarter or so. The person then has to pay to get out of jail. The year we made the most money was when the little ones put themselves in jail and then paid to get themselves out.”

The teacher dunk I mentioned above was a popular attraction. Again, I quote Mr. Rice: “My first carnival was May 6, 1978, when it snowed six inches. When I got dipped, it was very, very cold.” I believe that.

Graland Country Day School

Graland Country Day School is a private school in Denver, Colorado, serving students in preschool, kindergarten, elementary, and middle school. Founded in Denver in 1924, Graland incorporates a rich, experiential learning approach in a traditional classroom setting, emphasizing the development of globally and socially conscious leaders who excel academically.