• New Paltz Students  Gain a “Grade A” Appreciation for Parenting Struggles with “Egg Baby” Project  


    Grade 8 students in Melissa Gruver-LaPolt’s Health class learned that parenting isn’t what it’s always cracked up to be, thanks to their recent project, “Egg Baby.”

    The project, which aimed to help students gain a better understanding of the responsibilities involved in the daily care of a baby, involved having pairs of students care for an egg “baby,” ensuring the baby’s health and safety at all times. In addition to having their own blanket and sturdy carrier, each “baby” had to be able to breathe and see the light of day. 

    The student egg parents had to do more than just carry around their fragile cargo for a few days; they were also tasked with creating a scrapbook dedicated to their egg. Included in the scrapbook were time schedules, a shopping list, a daily journal, a babysitter log, a birth certificate, a budget sheet, documentation of medical issues (each egg baby has one birth defect assigned by Mrs. Gruver-LaPolt), a birth announcement, pictures of the egg parent and partner, and of course, baby photos. Mrs. Gruver-LaPolt conducted routine wellness checks, and in the event of an injury resulting from an accident or abuse, the egg parents were required to fill out an Accident/Abuse Form, ideally with a witness statement from an adult. 

    Students journaled about their struggles and insights as a parent, documenting how their families were adjusting to the egg baby’s presence, reporting whether they received help, participating in nature versus nurture debate, and more. Half of the egg parents had to write about their egg’s birth defect from a parental point of view, and the other half had to write about it from a doctor’s point of view. Mrs. Gruver-LaPolt said that her students boiled it down to the discovery of real-life parenting conundrums, such as conflicting schedules and disagreements regarding parental responsibilities or approaches. Some even worried about the safety of their egg while it was in their partner's care.   

    On a recent day, egg parenting partners Matthew Morrisey and Madison Goodnow were toting around triplets, expressing concern for their wards’ safety, particularly in the school’s busy hallways. Egg siblings Paisley, Luke, and Colin each had their own face, clothing, and color scheme to convey their own unique personalities. Egg parent Alex Russo said he and his co-parent, Jason Scotto, had begun to suspect that their egg baby, nicknamed “Shalatudumbutumva,” is possibly neurodivergent, claiming that their child was “energetic, high-spirited.” Rowan Santos and Clea Spring, who were co-parenting baby egg Opal, ascribed traits of “nice, but sassy” to their egg baby, and both remarked that they were fretting over Opal’s safety in the busy Middle School hallways. Students Ami Densmore and Jack Gates were alternating their schedules to take care of their baby egg, Luca Ruby Dates, who attended lunch in the cafeteria with Jack on his days out of concern that Luca could get injured if left alone in his locker. 

    Student Iliana Melissis, Eggford’s mom, was sad to report that her own cat was responsible for the deep cracks in Eggford's delicate shell. Iliana’s cat had no comment at this time.

    Gruver-LaPolt said she hopes her students came away with a new understanding about having to communicate and plan with another person for the care of something other than themselves. “It is hard to be a middle schooler and at this time in their personal development, many tend to be looking inward at what’s going on,” said Gruver-LaPolt. “My hope with this project is that they get a glimpse–even if for just a week or two– what is involved in having a baby and working with another person to care for a ‘child’ and to look outward and to learn just a little more how other people operate, how to work with people, and also to learn more of how they personally operate with others.”