FOOD DRIVE PUTS TEACHER IN BOX

December 19, 2001 11:00 pm
BOX VISITORS: La Grande Middle School teacher Brita Bowersox of La Grande converses with two eighth-graders Wednesday morning while in her box. Students reached their food collecting goal, which resulted in Bowersox spending 24 hours in a box at the middle school. The students are Christina Shelley, 13, left, and Amanda Stone, 13, both of La Grande. (The Observer/KELLY WARD).
BOX VISITORS: La Grande Middle School teacher Brita Bowersox of La Grande converses with two eighth-graders Wednesday morning while in her box. Students reached their food collecting goal, which resulted in Bowersox spending 24 hours in a box at the middle school. The students are Christina Shelley, 13, left, and Amanda Stone, 13, both of La Grande. (The Observer/KELLY WARD).

By Dick Mason

Observer Staff Writer

La Grande Middle School teacher Brita Bowersox stayed after school Tuesday afternoon and stayed and stayed ...

Bowersox remained at LMS for almost 24 hours to honor the students for their successful Christmas food drive.

The popular health and P.E. teacher set up camp at the school in the most spartan of quarters, a cardboard refrigerator box. Bowersox remained in the box virtually the entire time.

It was a wonderful experience but definitely harder than I thought it would be. Im not used to being in one place for so long. It was a bit confining, Bowersox said.

Bowersox got just three hours of sleep during her marathon. The rest of the time was spent reading books, playing solitaire and watching episodes of Friends via a hand-held computer.

She had company before school opened Wednesday. Her husband, Matt, brought her dinner and students brought her coffee from Starbucks. Bowersox, though, was all alone at the school for 7 1/2 hours after custodian Dee Dixon left at 10:30 p.m. Tuesday.

She found the experience unsettling.

It was a little freaky, Bowersox said. Im so used to the students being there. I had never been alone in the building before.

Bowersox, remaining in a roped-off area near the school entrance, found herself as the center of attention when school started Wednesday morning.

I now know what it is like to be in a zoo and have everyone staring at you, Bowersox said.

Still she emphasized that she had fun. Despite her fatigue, it was apparent Wednesday that she enjoyed talking with the many students who visited her during breaks between classes.

Bowersox was moved by the compassion the students showed. Many were frequently asking if she was OK and if they could do anything for her.

Students who were helpful included eighth-grader Kenny Forsythe. He kept Bowersox updated on what was happening in school.

He was my link to the outside world, Bowersox said.

Bowersox said that staying in the box was easier than it would have been to shave her head.

She was referring to the fact that in past years LMS teachers have had their heads shaved to honor students for meeting their food-drive goal.

Students brought in 4,417 cans of food this year, far exceeding their goal of 3,500.

The day before they were 1,000 cans short (of the goal) so I thought I was safe, Bowersox sad.

She said it would not have been possible for her to stay in the box without help from teachers Clint Johnson, Lonnie Meyers and Jim Martin. The three took over Bowersoxs classes on Wednesday.

These kids worked so hard. I would do anything for them. I would have even stayed in a box outside for them if it was warmer, Bowersox said.