Is There a Blue Moon In the Sky Today?

THE Blue Moon Awards may not have the pizazz of the Hollywood Oscars, but in and around Bothley Junior School in Glasgow they are no small matter. To be invested with a Blue Moon Award - they are so far confined to the 10- to 11-year-olds in Mrs. A.'s Primary Six Class - is not to be sneezed at. To date, only two of the pupils - James McFadgeon and Karen McDougal - have stood at the teacher's desk while she placed the blue ribbon with its pendant blue moon around their necks, to a background of resounding applause.

Like all the best ideas, the Blue Moon Awards sort of happened. One Monday lunchtime, Mrs. A. found herself saying to James McFadgeon, a little boy with a vast capacity for naughtiness, ``James, what on earth has happened? You've behaved properly for a whole morning. Is there a blue moon in the sky?'' (And she looked quizzically out of the window to check.)

The little smile on James's face hinted immense pleasure. When he went home he even told his mother about it. That evening there happened to be a Parents' Night at Bothley Junior School, and James's mother went along with all the others to chat with the teacher. When her turn came, she said: ``I hear there was a blue moon in the sky today!''

And from this time grew the notion of the Blue Moon Award. On Friday James became the first Blue Moon Award recipient - for having behaved properly, not just for a morning, or for a day, but for a full five days. Something in him had found a challenge worth striving for - a basic desire to please, perhaps, an essential preference for being good. Whatever it was, his willingness to turn over a new leaf achieved an award that carries serious value not only for him but for the rest of the class, too.

Immediately, Karen McDougal announced that she was going to try for a Blue Moon Award. This was almost as surprising as James. Karen, like James, was aware that she was one of the undoubted renegades in Bothley's Primary Six. This class as a whole, composed of the most unruly halves of two of last year's Primary Five Classes, had exercised every ounce of Mrs. A.'s capacity for discipline and control.

The next week Karen started out well. But by about Wednesday she had slipped from grace a few times, and Mrs. A. had more or less made up her mind that she could give her Half-a-Blue-Moon Award only on Friday. But then something remarkable occurred.

On Thursday night, Karen didn't feel at all well. First thing Friday morning, her father phoned the school. He was very puzzled. Karen ought just to stay in bed, he said, but ``she insists on getting up. She says she's been promised something at school today, and must come into school! What on earth has she been promised?''

Karen hadn't even told her parents.

So Karen did come in and - partly in recognition of such undoubted heroism - she was invested, as they all clapped for her vigorously (even though she has not made herself universally loved by other children in the class), with a full Blue Moon Award. At lunch time she went home and back to bed. And her Blue Moon prominently adorned the family Christmas tree.

And so it was that the Blue Moon Awards got started. Fourteen other children are intent on winning one. Actually more of the class - all but one - wanted to try, but Mrs. A. had to point out that really Blue Moon Awards were for people who had been in the habit of being bad, not for those who were generally good.

And that's why Mrs. A. had to initiate Gold and Silver Moon Awards as well.

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