The sound of snow boots pounding the floor echoed though the now empty halls of SeaLake elementary school as Jim rushed towards his class. The halls were normally crowded with students in the morning but Jim was fifteen minutes late, everybody had already gone to their morning classes. Jim was not a bad student, he was normally on time but the weather had been quite bad this week, the sidewalks were covered with snow and ice. Jim was fine with the snow but the idea of slipping on ice terrified him. Which is why he had walked very slowly on the icy sidewalks, that resulted in him being late for the third time this week. Of course he could have just woken up 15 minutes earlier to avoid being late but sacrificing fifteen minutes of sleep was not an idea he was not willing to consider.
As he got closer to his classroom he knew his teacher, Ms. Lee would not be to happy with him being late again. As Jim finally entered the room he was confronted by the disappointed face of his sixth grade teacher and the face said “Late again Jim? This is the third time this week, one more time I am calling your parents” . Jim apologized and quickly scampered to his desk next to his best friend, A.J. The class had already started so Jim did not have time to talk to A.J, he dove right into his bag to get his textbook the only problem was he was not sure what period this was. The first period class alternate from English and Social Studies based on what day of the week it was. It was Friday but Jim for the life of him, could not remember if it was social studies or English that they were suppose to be studying in the morning. He quickly surveyed his options, he could ask A.J but that would result in the whole class knowing as A.J did not know how to whisper and his loud voice would alert the whole class. Asking Ms. Lee was not an option, as he did not want to appear unprepared on top being late. Before Jim could think of anything else, the answer literally hit him on his foot. Shahid, the Student sitting behind Jim had dropped his textbook right on the back of Jim’s foot. This is my chance thought Jim as he almost dove to pick the book up and as he was handing the book back to Shahid he took a quick glance at it. II was the English textbook. Feeling relieved Jim got his English textbook out and joined the rest of the class.
As the first of couple periods were about to end, Ms. Lee announced “Class, as you know next week is the last week before winter holidays and is also when our class will decorate the school Christmas tree” The class cheered as they heard that. The sixth grade students decorating the Christmas tree had been a tradition since Jim was in kindergarten. Jim and every sixth grader had looked forward to this since they had started school, as not only was decorating the tree fun, the class also got to miss the first two periods of class as they worked on the giant tree. The class was so loud with excited cheering that they almost did not hear the bell go off for recess.
As Jim and A.J walked towards the playground, they saw their Gym teacher, Mr. Baker crouching down near the main office with three big card boxes set beside him. He was writing something on each box but neither Jim nor A.J could tell what was written as Mr. Baker had the worse handwriting in the history of humankind. “Hey Mr. B, what are you doing with the boxes”? Asked A.J. Mr. Baker turned out quickly to look at the boys and said in a cheerful voice “Hey boys, nothing just labelling and sorting out stuff, the first two boxes are labelled “donations” for the children’s hospital, while the third is for the tree decorations”, The boys thanked their gym teacher and went out for recess.
The rest of the day was pretty uneventful and everybody just looked forward to it ending so they could get a step closer to Monday when they finally get to work on the school Christmas tree. The weekend went over quickly as well, in fact it was the first weekend in his life that Jim wanted to end so he could get to school on Monday.
When Monday finally roiled by, Jim was so excited that he actually got to school on time. “Hello Ms. Lee, look I am on time today” Jim cheerfully said to his teacher as he entered the room. However she did not seem to hear him, she looked very worried and was profusely chewing on her bottom lip. “Ms. Lee, shouldn’t we get to the gym now and work on the tree?” A.J enthusiastically asked. Ms. Lee did not answer him either but her face got sadder, it almost looked like she was going to cry. The students began to notice and asked if there was a problem but she did not answer. She just stood their looking as sad a person could possibly look. After standing like an extremely sad mannequin for ten minutes, Ms. Lee finally spoke up “Class, there will be no tree decorating this year”.
The students gasped as their teacher went into details of what had taken place, she explained how when the teachers came to school in the morning they did not find the ornaments in the office. They looked all over the school but the box of ornaments was nowhere to be seen. “Anyways class you may not get to decorate the tree but you guys will get the first two periods off, you can take it as an extended recess”. Normally this would have delighted Jim and A.J but they were anything but happy as they walked out to the playground to “enjoy” their extended recess.
“We have to do something we have to find the tree” Jim said to his friend who was as disappointed as Jim with the disappearance of the tree ornaments.
“What can we do, Ms. Lee said they looked everywhere for them” was A.J’s response.
However Jim was not one to give up so he proposed that A.J and Him should take this extended recess as an opportunity to investigate the missing tree ornaments.
“Alright first step, lets interview Mrs. Barrett” declared Jim as he and A.J went towards the school office. Mrs. Barrett was the school administrator; she was the serious sort, no one had every seen her laugh or even smile. Also she always looked tired and uninterested in anything the kids had to say.
As they entered the main office, A.J said in his best detective voice “Hello Mrs. Barrett, can we please review the security footage from this morning, we are here to solve the case of the missing ornaments”
Mrs. Barrett almost actually laughed but just almost as she said “Solve the case? Review the footage? What are you suppose to be some sort of miniature versions of Sherlock Holmes and Dr.Watson?”
“Ahhh, we don’t know who those people are but what we know is that someone stole the box of ornaments from here and we can see who its from the security camera footage” said a somewhat confused Jim.
“Look, there is no security footage since we don’t have security camera here. Anyways the doors of the school were locked and only the staff had the key so nothing was stolen” was Mrs. Barrett’s stern reply. Before Jim could say anything else, she held up her hand and said she needed get back to work.
They had no clues, no leads and were no closer to finding the lost ornaments and time was swiftly running out, barely over an hour was left before recess was over. “Hey look over there,” A.J said pointing to brightly coloured pink piece of paper discarded near the end of the corridor. The paper read “Loot”, “This is our first clue“ declared A.J
“That’s not a clue, it’s just a slip Mr. Baker hands out when someone is late for his class, maybe one of the students dropped it by mistake”. Said Jim as he destroyed the new found hope A.J had. Jim was right, it was a late slip, it actually said “late” on it but Mr. Baker less than impressive penmanship made it seem like “Loot”. Jim absentmindedly stuffed the slip into his pocket and continued his quest for missing decorations. The two friends looked everywhere; they searched virtually every classroom and every office in the school but to no avail, the big box had just vanished out of thin air.
They were completely out of theories before A.J proposed a new one “Maybe elves took it, you know maybe they ran out of decorations in the north pole and they needed to steal ours to finish decorating”. Jim just started at his friend for a while than said” Ok but before we follow that theory, lets work on a non-ridiculous one. Lets talk to Mr. Baker as he was last one we saw with the boxes”. A.J was still staunchly behind his own elves story but decided go along with Jim for now. The boys located their gym teacher in the teacher lounge. Than the questioning began “When did you last see the boxes?” “Did anyone else have the key to the school?” did you see anyone take the boxes?” do you work for a secret elf society?” these were some of the question asked with the elf one coming from A.J.
Mr. baker sighed and asked the boys to calm down before he answered the all the questions at once “No I do not work for elves nor did I see anyone take the boxes. Last time I saw the boxes was when I labelled them, as for the keys usually only the teachers have them but this morning so did the people from the hospital but they only came for the donations”. Mr. Baker sighed once more as he finished answering and said” I am sorry boys but seems like ornaments have gone missing, maybe we will get new ones for next year”. Next year did not work for Jim or A.J as they move to junior high school next year and would never get the chance to decorate the elementary school tree.
More disappointed than ever the two friends walked out and strolled in complete silence before A.J finally said, “Hey, do you have any gum”? . Jim glared at his friend, as this was not the most appropriate time to ask for gum but still he had some so reached into his pocket to fetch a stick of gum. He did not find any gum in his pocket but what he found may have cracked this case wide open.
“Hurry up with the gum” A.J impatiently said. But Jim ignored him as he took out the pink slip they had picked up from the school corridor. “Forget the gum, look at his slip, it’s supposed to say “Late” but because of Mr. Baker’s horrendous writing, it seems like “loot”. Jim paused to take a breath and than continued “ So maybe when Mr. Baker had labelled one box” donations” while the other “decorations” , with his horrible handwriting, it was quite possible that the person who picked up the boxes thought both said donations so he took both”. A.J’s face lit up as he heard, this had to be it he thought. “That could be it, maybe the hospital took it by mistake, lets go tell the Ms. Lee: A.J happily chirped and by now had totally forgotten about the gum. “ No time for that we could get to the hospital ourselves and get it back before recess ends, so that way we can decorate the tree before school ends”, was Jim’s answer.
Jim than glanced at his watch; they still had 20 minutes left of the extended recess and the hospital they had donated to was only five minutes away so he still had time. Without saying another word Jim took off towards the SeaLake hospital, A.J was reluctant but still followed him. Not caring about the icy roads this time, Jim dashed towards his destination with A.J following behind. They were at the door of the hospital in no time but still had to wait a couple minutes to catch their breath.
“Lets ask the lady at the reception,” said Jim as both boys entered the hospital. However before they could make their way to the reception, their eyes wandered to the main lobby and what they saw there was an amazing site. A bunch of young kids, younger than Jim were gathered around a large tree decorating it with ornaments. The kids looked really happy and were adorning the tree with great joy. The ornaments looked familiar, they were ones mistakenly donated from the school. For a while the two friends said nothing but just kept looking towards the tree. “Do you think we should ask to have ornaments back”? Jim said. A.J wasn’t too sure himself and just said replied by muttering a quiet “I don’t Know, the kids look really happy but the ornaments belong to the school ”. While the boys were still contemplating what to do, the lady from reception asked them in a cheerful “Hello Kids, Can I help you with something”? This was their chance they could explain their story and hopefully they would get their tree ornaments back, the ornaments they have worked so hard to track down. “No thank you, we came in the wrong building by mistake” said Jim as he alongside A.J stepped outside. On their way back to school, both friends agreed that the ornaments were more at home at the Children’s Hospital and they were sure Ms. Lee would understand.
Jim had waited six years for this, the day he is in sixth grade and finally gets to decorate the school christmas tree. Everything is set and the class is ready but where are the ornaments?. Will Jim find them in time to decorate the school tree for christmas? while he find them at all?