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The student news site of Liberty High School in Frisco, Texas


The student news site of Liberty High School in Frisco, Texas


The student news site of Liberty High School in Frisco, Texas


Cook brings fun to the classroom

Christina Huang
Chemistry teacher Elaine Cook brings traditions and fun to the classroom in order to increase student engagement. A pet board and an elf hiding around the room are just a couple things Cook has incorporated into the classroom.

Elf on the Shelf might be a Christmas tradition at home for some Redhawks, but for students in on-level chemistry classes, the tradition was brought onto campus along with a ‘Petriodic board’ featuring photos of student’s pets, and a classroom playlist. 

“The Elf on the Shelf was an idea inspired by Mr. Sabatier’s elf [who] lives in the science department workroom,” Chemistry teacher Elaine Cook said. “All of the science teachers love looking for him and see what shenanigans he’s up to each day. I’ve always wanted one for myself, and I noticed that students like to have fun, no matter their age. It’s never too late to incorporate the holiday spirit into our lives!”

Beyond the elf, the student-created class playlist and the ‘Petriodic board,’ a bulletin board where student’s pet pictures are arranged into the shape of a periodic table, have been incorporated into the class since the beginning of the school year. 

“Student submissions roll in all the time, but I have not updated the playlist in [around] one month,” Cook said. “The Petriodic Table (pet board) was my fiancé’s idea. I told him about my students’ pets and that they had shown me cute photos of them. I also mentioned how I wanted to incorporate my students into my classroom decor somehow. Thus, the pet board was born!”

The pet board and the elf’s creative hiding places brightens the mood of the class for sophomore Danila Melnikov. 

“We named our elf Soulja Boy [and] I have enjoyed [him] hiding on the ceiling as it’s not a typical spot to look at when searching for our elf,” Melnikov said. 

Students were able to actively engage with the classroom elf, who will go into ‘hibernation’ until next year, through their virtual daily warm-ups on Canvas

“The elf’s name was [originally] Great Val the Elf (he’s off-brand),” Cook said. “Each student submitted a name, and the names were narrowed down to five per class. They were narrowed down to five through me, other science teachers, and my fiancé. Each class then voted on their favorite. The funniest predicament was a tie for 4B between Verde and Jingle, so they chose… Verdingle.”

At the end of the day, Cook’s goal is to encourage student conversation in class.

“I think the board feels sweet to be incorporated, but it is not always an active conversation piece,” Cook said. “Next [year], I would [like having the] names of [the] pets, and do a ‘pet of the week’ to draw more attention to the student pet submissions. The elf is something silly that some students may roll their eyes at, but I think it still can add a fun and special touch.”

But for sophomore Sarah Mills who enjoys the pet board as seeing her dog gives her a sense of calm, the ‘Petriodic Board’ can be a reminder to destress in the middle of the school day. 

“[I think the pet board] gives everyone something to look at, especially if you’re an animal person,” Mills said. “If someone is stressing out because of a test then they can look at the pets and feel better if that helps them.”

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About the Contributor
Christina Huang
Christina Huang, Staff Reporter/Interactive Media Editor
Christina Huang is a sophomore in her first year officially with Wingspan. She enjoys reading, writing, playing the piano and viola, and finding/creating wallpapers for her phone which she will likely never use. She’s looking forward to the opportunity to better her writing and find the good in scorned books this year through her book blog: Every Book Has a Silver Lining. Contact Christina:

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