November 22, 2006
In mid October, eight Jeremy Ranch Elementary School students were sent home with chickenpox. On Friday, Nov 17 second-grade teacher Karen Voth held a Chickenpox party, celebrating those who got it and those who didn’t.
One month ago on a Monday, two parents called Jeremy Ranch Elementary School to report their second-grade children were home with possible chickenpox. On Tuesday, the diagnosis was confirmed. Voth gently told the remaining 18 students, that if they felt any itchy areas on their skin to let her know. Right away students came forward. Voth saw some "pox" marks and school district nurse, Anne Alexander, was at the school within 15 minutes. Parents were summoned to pick up students with suspected infections.
"The kids were freaking out," Voth said. "One student was scratching his back against a wall. Another was scratching his back with the eraser on a pencil."
That left only 8 kids. Voth decided to have a survivor party that Friday, with popcorn and movies.
"I don’t mind getting chicken pox," said Montana Sweet-Tabar, who did not contract the sickness. "It’s a lot better when you get them when you are younger than older." And she is right. Children often contract the disease without serious side effects. But in older adults, who skipped chickenpox as children, the disease can result in dangerous complications.
Chicken pox, a highly contagious viral infection, is characterized by itching, rashes and little blistering pox marks on the skin. Fever and headache often occur, and children are often out of school for about a week.
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Voth said that parents later reported that their infected children were asked not to enter doctors’ offices. The doctor, instead, came out to their cars to visit them, to prevent the further spread of the virus.
Children entering public school are immunized, but that does not guarantee a child will not contract the virus. However, those previously immunized tend to get much milder cases. All of the students in Voth’s class had previously been immunized.
Voth had her class write about their experiences either getting or not getting chickenpox.
Gabe Hall did get chickenpox. "This is me with the chickenpox," he wrote, accompanied by a drawing of himself with spots all over his face. "They are so so sooooooo itchy. I do not like them. But it was bad."
John Robert Rohman was one of the lucky who avoided illness. He enjoyed the survivor party. "I like to party with my friends a lot," he wrote.
The recent chickenpox party, thrown by Voth, Mrs. Ferguson, a teacher sharing the same classroom, and several parents, who brought food and helped out, was announced on red and white polka-dot stationery. It proclaimed, "Everyone is welcome whether you were a victim or a survivor. Come celebrate our health!"
The students who caught chickenpox were back in class by the following Monday. "They came back with ideas of fun things we could do in our chickenpox party," said Voth.
Students wore red and white clothes, and Voth put red spots on willing students’ faces with a marking pen. Red and white balloons adorned the room and games were played. Food was served (red and white) and each student spoke to the class about their chickenpox experience.
Creed Dimiano did get it and told the class of his experience. "Thursday I had a terrible headache. That was the worstest day of my life," he wrote.