Junk people take over
Roughly 200 junk people line the halls of Riverside Middle School in New Castle like a cast-off army.
Although the custodians are adjusting, more than one teacher working late has been unnerved by the silent figures.
Made of everything from plastic jugs to copper pipes, they bear names like “Billy Bob the Bullrider” and “Jenna Junk.” Most are supported by a pair of old shoes, though some opt for a sportier base in the form of a snowboard or skateboard. A few boast stomachs full of Froot Loops or Cap’n Crunch, while others complete their ensemble with a Santa hat or Groucho Marx glasses.
It’s all part of a project that caps off the anatomy section of the fifth-grade curriculum. The students have spent the last few months doing research and experiments to help understand the human body, with all its systems and organs. This week, they brought it all together by presenting anatomically labeled junk people, made with whatever they can find around the house.
“It’s a great project because it’s a chance to really construct and build the human body in a low-cost way,” said fifth-grade teacher Trent Bakich.
Fifth-grader Alyssa Hamilton agreed.
“You get to get a lot of stuff together and just create,” she said.
Ariana Montes said she learned a lot about how organs interact in the digestive, circulatory and respiratory systems.
“I used to think it was just all one system,” she said.
Taylor Gelpi said it gave her a new outlook on her body.
“Sometimes I’m like, ‘I’m just a regular human being.’ Then I realize that I have a lot of different organs in me,” she said.
Tessa Fowler, like many of her classmates, was amazed to discover her stomach is full of acid. She also enjoyed teaching her parents.
“I was surprised that they didn’t already know it all,” she said.
The junk people are a long tradition at the school. Teachers started out assigning mostly small models nearly 20 years ago. Given how much the kids seem to learn and enjoy it, the tradition will likely continue for years to come.
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Former Aspen Skiing Co. executive and Aspen city councilman Derek Johnson has been released from state prison and is currently residing at a halfway house.