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THE CARLINE CREW: This popular activity has fast become a tradition at Columbia Elementary

Editor’s Note: The following is from the January issue of Madison Living Magazine. To see this and other great features, you can find it in businesses throughout Madison or go to www.madisonlivingmagazine.com.

MADISON – Tyrannosaurus Rexes, giant microphones, rabbits with carrots, sunflowers and Brides of Frankenstein.
These get-ups are only a few costumes that the Columbia Carline wears to welcome students arriving/departing at Columbia Elementary School.

“I have been in full support of the carline crew at Columbia,” former principal Jamie Hill said. He started his new role as the principal at Discovery Middle School this month. “Carline teachers are very creative and have countless compliments from our school community.” Dress-up started in 2019 with a Christmas tree costume, and the camaraderie has expanded greatly.

Hill’s role in this scenario was to supervise the building’s front for the walkers and school buses. “Our assistant principals and assigned teachers supervise the carline in the morning and afternoon as cars enter Balch Road at the campus’ south end,” Hill said.

For carline duty, teachers rotate every other week on a Week A and Week B schedule,” third-grade teacher Karen Jump said. However, on special days or holidays, everyone happily wears a costume and joins the celebration, according to kindergarten teacher Alisha Courtney.

For afternoon carline, a teacher walks down the road and calls carline numbers. In the gym, another teacher records the numbers for a co-worker to call out and line up students in correct order. Other teachers monitor students in the gym and assist students entering cars.

The Columbia Carline masquerades for major holidays – a week of Halloween-themed costumes, 12 Days of Christmas and the last week of the schoolyear. Not-so-notable days are hilarious, including dress-up for “Talk Like a Pirate Day,” weather forecasters and Gingerbread Week. “We also have music and props, large candy canes, bubble machines and large inflatable microphones,” Jump said.

“One year, we did “Frozen” on a super cold day in hopes we would get snow. It worked! We had snow the next day,” Courtney said. Courtney’s favorite costume is the Thanksgiving turkey.

Students laugh at bigger costumes, like inflatables, and get most excited for props, like the bubble gun. “Personally, any costume is fun to dress up. Students love seeing us make our way down to carline. Reactions of parents and students outside make every costume the best to me,” first-grade teacher Molly Hayne said.

Some students act embarrassed at singing and dancing teachers, “but we catch them singing and dancing right along with us,” Gaines said.

Parents also like the costumes. They often record or photograph the fun from their cars, or even sing and dance along to the rhythms. Parents’ involvement increases the fun factor for everyone, Hayne said.

When Courtney opens the costume closet or bin in her classroom, her students get excited. “When we post pictures to social media, I will hear from friends and family that love the costumes, too,” Courtney said.

Above any other conflict, the weather presents the major challenge. “We are like the postal service. From 100 degrees, to snow, to rain and storms, we still have carline!” Jump said.

During winter, teachers bundle up as securely as possible in oversized coats, gloves and hats. “The costumes come in handy during the winter time as they trap in some heat,” Hayne said.

“Rainy days with lots of wind get you soaked,” Courtney said. She keeps a spare change of clothes, in case she gets drenched. Occasionally, a car will stall in the carline. “Then, we are calling for kids and directing traffic around the stalled vehicle.

“Weather is definitely our biggest hurdle, but we’re pretty good at adapting and ‘going with the flow’ to make it happen,” Gaines said. “It’s all about the students. At the end of the day, we can handle 30 minutes outside, in less than desirable weather conditions so we can make them smile.”

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