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by Abigail Van Buren

Wisdom of the Ages Gets New Twist From Students

DEAR ABBY: I teach fourth grade at Westlake Elementary School in Ventura County, Calif. As a fun assignment, I gave the students the beginning of a list of famous sayings and asked them to provide original endings for each one. Here are some examples of what my students submitted. You may want to share them with your readers. -- LESLY VICK

DEAR LESLY VICK: Indeed I do. Your students deserve an "A" for originality. Read on:

The grass is always greener when you leave the sprinkler on.

A rolling stone plays the guitar.

The grass is always greener when you remember to water it.

A bird in the hand is a real mess.

No news is no newspaper.

It's better to light one candle than to waste electricity.

It's always darkest just before I open my eyes.

You have nothing to fear but homework.

If you can't stand the heat, don't start the fireplace.

If you can't stand the heat, go swimming.

Never put off 'til tomorrow what you should have done yesterday.

A penny saved is nothing in the real world.

The squeaking wheel gets annoying.

We have nothing to fear but our principal.

To err is human. To eat a muskrat is not.

I think, therefore I get a headache.

Laugh and the world laughs with you. Cry, and someone yells, "Shut up!"

Better to light a candle than to light an explosive.

It's always darkest before 9:30 p.m.

Early to bed and early to rise is first in the bathroom.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a blister.

There is nothing new under the bed.

The grass is always greener when you put manure on it.

Don't count your chickens -- it takes too long!

DEAR ABBY: In reference to "Happily Adopted in Orlando, Fla." This indeed was a remarkable letter.

It is well-organized, well-punctuated and quite correct in every respect. A parse program I have rates it at the eighth- or ninth-grade level. No small achievement for the sixth-grade product of an educational system that for years has been unable to teach young people to tie their shoelaces. -- HAL D. WHITE, IMPRESSED IN UTAH

DEAR MR. WHITE: I'm printing your letter with the hope that "Happily Adopted" will see it and appreciate the compliment. And hats off to "Happily Adopted's" very effective teachers, who seem to have performed their jobs well.

However, not all my readers took "Happily Adopted's" letter at face value. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: There is ABSOLUTELY no way that I can believe that an 11-year-old boy wrote that whiny letter. It is entirely possible that he is being hassled over having two dads, but I just don't buy that an 11-year-old is/was this articulate! I have an 11-year-old, and I've worked with fifth- and sixth-graders for years.

I think one of his "dads" wrote the letter, and the son copied it and sent it to you. Personally, Abby, I think you've been snookered. -- MELISSA IN SACRAMENTO

DEAR MELISSA: You could be right, and if I have been snookered, it wouldn't be the first time.

For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more attractive person, order "How to Be Popular." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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