When your last name of Clancy and your mother’s maiden name is Murphy, celebrating St. Patrick’s Day is a given. But how to incorporate the holiday into public school curriculum?
The solution has become a tradition at Oak Knoll School in Menlo Park — the annual Secret Leprechaun Lunch Exchange held in Karen Clancy’s 3rd/4th/5th multi-age classroom.
“I started it 13 years ago when I taught first grade with Renee Lavezzo,” said Karen, who has been at Oak Knoll for 15 years. “The really fun part is that the kids have to keep a secret. They all get excited about that.”
Here’s how it works. Each student writes down what they would like for lunch. The requests are folded in half and assigned to another student who makes the lunch. Creative packaging is encouraged as is the addition of a small surprise like a green pencil or shamrock sugar cookie.
“This is the third year my son, who is a fifth grader, has participated,” said Alexis Murphy. “Last year, for a boy, we put the lunch in a Lucky Charms cereal box and named every food item O-something, like Wat-o-melon. This year we’re doing it for a girl and putting lunch in a big Leprechaun hat with a gold glitter buckle and all the food items will have an Irish twist, like Blarney butter.” (The clever Murphy lunch is pictured,right; more photos are on Alexis’ website.)
This year’s Leprechaun Lunch took place yesterday (3/16) due to St. Patrick’s Day falling on a Saturday. Memories of the fun appear to be enduring: “I have had students who are now in high school come back and tell me that one of their favorite memories is the ‘secret lunch exchange,'” said Karen. “How sweet is that!”
Photos of 2012 Leprechaun Lunch by Irene Searles
Photo of 2012 secret lunch by Alexis Murphy