It is hard to believe that 2014 has come to a close. We had an exciting year with new cities, new schools, new camp partnerships & a new program, the Next Chapter Club! We'd love to end our year by sharing some pieces from our Next Chapter Club students - work from our new, virtual classroom!From an exercise exploring the personification of clocks & "Frozen in Time"

I, Big Ben, was very tired of keeping time for the eccentric Londoners. I mean, seriously, when they named me, they didn't know that I was actually a girl. So, one day, I made time stop by freezing my clock hands. It stayed six in the morning forever. One human child was yelling about how it must have been thirty minutes, but it was still sunrise. "Please can I play outside?" said a slightly older child. "I'm pretty sure you can," said the mother. "It must be eight-thirty already." I chuckled at the look of shock on her face when she found it was still early in the morning. The snowflakes stayed in their positions as they were about to go down. I got a few calls from my clock friends around the world. (Yes, clocks have telephones.) "It's not even morning yet!" complained an alarm clock in California. "My hands can't even move!" shouted the clock tower in Switzerland, the clock capital of the world. "Enough's enough!" screeched a digital clock from Shanghai. "Yeah, do you know when it's time to stop, Ben?" asked a clock from Italy who I barely knew, so it was creepy how he got my phone number. "Ha-ha, get it?" "Fine, if you say so," I said, and with that, time returned to normal. The weak winter sun was at its rightful place in the sky, and I believe I saw him wink at me. The grown-ups were still shocked by what they had just seen, but the children, being children, just went out and played in the snow, glad that time was back to normal. I vowed that if I didn't want any angry phone calls from my friends, I would never stop time again as long as I lived.

- NiaI moaned with agony as the kindergardeners shrieked. I could not stand these children. Always screaming, and their teacher would just put in ear plugs and sip her coffee. No one ever thought of me. I mean, I'm just a clock fairy. You know, the little creature that makes the hands spin on clocks? But they thought I was the clock. Nothing more. And people tend not to care about the hearing of inanimate objects. One day, I just snapped. The children were screaming their lungs out during Free Time, while the teacher just sat there at her laptop, ear plugs firmly wedged in place. And I decided I couldn't stand another second. I stopped turning the hands, and kept it that way until the janitor took my clock down. And I had another stroke of luck-- the fairy in the fifth-grade classroom was being promoted to a clock at a basketball stadium, and I moved into that clock. And I lived happily ever after.

- Charlotte

After reading an excerpt from a short story by Ursula Willis Jones: “The Time Sweepers“, students created their own time sweeper stories.

You can't really talk to a time-sweeper, for they would be so intent on their work they might not hear you, or on the very few occasions they are not busy, they will disappear as soon as you get close enough to talk to them. You can easily tell the males from the females. A female would wear as many sparkles on her shoes that she can stand (all of them hide their hair as much as possible) . A male would wear a rust-colored jacket (like painted-on rust-colored, so if a female were to splash mud on her coat, you'd still be able to tell). The time-sweepers love their jobs. They only love their jobs, though, because it's been their tradition since the beginning of time. There are children time-sweepers, but there are certain requirements for children. You must be at least ten years old to start sweeping time. Not only that, you have to be three foot eight, at the least. When they sweep up lost time, the lost time they sweep up is a bunch of scratched pearls having fallen from a necklace. The wasted time they sweep is just dust. The time sweepers wear watches made from the lost time they clean. With the wasted time, they sweep it into special dustpans. They empty the dustpans into little Mason jars and add them to their collections. So, if you waste time, you'll be adding to the time sweepers' collections.

- Nia

Students were asked to design an original alarm clock that could wake them up no matter what & then create an advertisement for the clock.

The alarm clock I'd make would be a solar-powered little metal box with a handle, with a clock on the front.  Here is how it works...

When it's time to get up, the alarm clock stops time in a little bubble around you until you wake up. Then, it plays soothing music and extends soft arms that massage your feet to help you get up and out of bed.  It clothes you in what you want to wear, then the box opens to reveal a hot breakfast that is different every morning.  It then unfolds into a scooter that you can ride.  If you push a little button on the handlebar, it lets you get off, then folds back up into a box.

I would sell it under the title: MorningClock®, by INAMP, Inc. (INAMP stands for "I'm not a morning person.")

AD: "Do you have a little trouble getting up in the morning? Then the MorningClock® is the alarm for you! Thanks to advanced technology, it lets you sleep in as long as you want without being late.  It clothes you in whatever you're in the mood for.  It gives you a hot, delicious breakfast PLUS a nutritious lunch.  And it can unfold into a scooter to get you places fast!  Best of all, its compact size and EZ-Carry™ handle makes it easy to bring with you.

Buy your MorningClock® today for only $29.99 at 1-800-995-0793."

It would be targeted at people like me who have trouble getting up in the morning and really need the MorningClock®!

Customer Review: "The MorningClock® really helped me! My morning used to be an unpleasant rush, but thanks to it, they're not, and it saves me the trouble of packing a lunch! Thanks, MorningClock®!"

- Charlotte