Together, they comprised Blubaugh's largest class in her 24 years of teaching. Her average is 21 children.
"We have a squishy classroom," she told them. "Twenty-seven kids are a lot."
The first day of school for the Fairview Elementary School class involved orientation of the room, a game, an introduction to Blubaugh's expectations and a few short lessons.
Class in session
The overwhelming majority of youngsters said they already had done a "literacy board" when Blubaugh introduced her method. The "board" covers a word of the day, vocabulary, determination of fact versus opinion and literary devices.
On Monday, they experimented with the word "terrific."
"A synonym is something that's the same," Darien Fann said when prompted by the teacher.
The children offered "magnificent" and "excellent" as synonyms for "terrific," especially after Blubaugh discouraged them from choosing "great" and "good."
Blubaugh told them to push themselves to use the challenging words that are favored on the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) tests.
"If they see you're using really neat, cool words and misspelled them a little, that's OK," Blubaugh said.
The Waynesboro Area School District's benchmark testing and targeted curriculum will be used to prepare Blubaugh's class and others for the PSSAs, which will be administered in early 2008. Blubaugh and the school principal mentioned the state assessments several times on the first day.
For example, students did not initially know which was the teal folder among the others on their desks. Horizon Draper found his when he realized he knew all of the other colors.
"Excellent!" Blubaugh said. "Process of elimination. We use that on PSSAs."
The teacher later introduced her rewards system of "Blubaugh Bucks" and "Mad Money."
"Anybody know what that PSSA word is?" Blubaugh asked, referring to alliteration.
Mandy Huntsberry offered up the reason why the phrases were examples of alliteration.
"Because there's two M's in front of each word and two B's in front of each word," Mandy said.
When interviewed in the early afternoon, Hollister Rolls said she was nervous about taking the PSSA tests.
"If I do reading, I have a really hard time finishing stuff," she said.
Blubaugh does not allow the students to whisper in class, so recess and lunch provided opportunities for children to partner with friends. They joined the other three fifth-grade classes on the playground.
In groups of two to six, they scattered to the swing set, baseball diamond or four-square court. Others, mostly girls, opted to walk and talk.
Hollister and Darien reminisced about fourth grade and talked about reading on a big cushion.
Hollister enjoys the Harry Potter series of books, and Darien wants to try to read "Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events" books.
The two said that lunch and recess are the best parts of the school day, although high temperatures on Monday proved frustrating for Darien.
"I'm sweaty, and I haven't even started running yet," Darien said.
· Large class size a challenge.
· Students write summer vacation essays.