Past The Statue Of Limitations

, , , , , | Learning | March 4, 2019

In Germany, it’s custom that after their finals, the graduates will play a prank on the school and teachers. In my father’s year, however, they get a new principal with no sense of humour whatsoever and they’re forbidden to do so. The graduates decide that only makes it even more fun.

The father of one of the graduates owns the local junkyard. The father of another one owns a construction company. My father’s mother has a beverage store.

They meet up with some other graduates at the junkyard on a Friday night. My father brings some crates of beer, and the construction company owner’s son brings welding equipment, angle grinders and such, and a small excavator. Someone else brings a tractor with a large trailer; it’s a fairly rural area. They then spend the night building a huge statue from junk, randomly cutting and welding things together. Before sunrise, they bring it to the school with the tractor. They dig a huge hole in the school’s front yard and cement the statue two meters deep in the ground.

When the principal discovers the statue on Monday morning, he’s furious. He gets a shovel and tries to dig it out himself. When that fails, he calls a construction company. Spoiler: The statue is still there today.

He then threatens to withhold all the graduation certificates if the culprits are not turned in, but it turns out that’s not legal. In the end, the prom is cancelled as a punishment.

But the story does not end there. Some younger students still have classes. An arts teacher decides to make the prank the subject of her next exam and asks her students to write an interpretation of the statue’s composition and the “artist’s” intentions. My father’s little sister is in her class and writes, “It was late. There was beer. They just welded together whatever they found. There was no planning beforehand and the message it’s intended to convey is ‘suck our d***s, [Principal].'” While that was 100% accurate, it was not what the teacher wanted to read, and my aunt got an F.

Every year since then, the graduates at this school have built a statue and displayed it at the schoolyard. When my cousin graduated from there a few years ago, I visited the school for the first time and she showed me their impressive “statue yard” behind the actual schoolyard. They make sure now to actually plan the statue and design it to convey a more elaborate message, though, because that arts exam has become a tradition, too.

Does V.C. Stand For “Very Creepy”?

, , , , , | Friendly | February 26, 2019

(In high school, I am something of a goody-two-shoes, a full-fledged dork, and a voracious bookworm. I am always carrying around a library book or two in case I get a spare minute to read. At lunch, I stack my books on the table and one of my classmates notices the top one.)

Classmate: “Are you reading a V.C. Andrews book?”

Me: “Yeah, I’ve never read anything by her before, but it looked interesting. She’s apparently written a ton of books.”

Classmate: “Okay, well, I had to read a V.C. Andrews book for Lit Class, and it was about incest. I can’t imagine you reading anything like that.”

Me: *shrugs* “Well, no incest yet. If I find any I’ll let you know.”

(Next chapter? Boom, incest. I did finish it, because I never give up on a book, but I felt dirty for about a month.)

Kindness Is The Key To Success

, , , , , , | Hopeless | February 25, 2019

When I was in high school I was on the board of the KEY Club — a high-school branch of the Kiwanis organization. I was in my Spanish class and had finished my work early, so I decided to get a little paperwork done for my board meeting later after school. My Spanish teacher asked if I could stay after class for a minute, which got me nervous that I was in trouble for something. It turns out she saw my paperwork and realized I was in the KEY Club. She told me that her son, Abraham, was autistic. He could speak, just not well, and things were a little slower for him, but he was improving immensely and his therapist had suggested that it would be beneficial for him to join a service club to help with his socialization. She asked if it would be possible for me to speak with the rest of the board about letting Abraham join.

I immediately said I would, and the rest of the board thought it was a great idea for him to join. We discussed waiving the admittance rules for him — he would have to memorize and recite the KEY Club pledge — but he wound up passing that easily. I’ll admit, I was nervous over how the other members would act around him but I shouldn’t have been.

The other members all were enthusiastic about Abraham; at any activity we did during meetings they all encouraged him, sat with him, and chatted with him, making sure he was having the best time. No one treated him differently or made fun of him. It was really beautiful to see.

But one thing that surprised all of us were his service hours. Members were required to finish 25 hours of service per semester, and we discussed waiving that requirement for Abraham. But not only did he far exceed his 25-hour requirement, he was actually the first member to finish it. We actually started to use him as an example when other members complained about not being able to complete the require hours; if Abraham could finish his hours first then really there was absolutely no excuse.

For a full year, I got to watch this wonderful boy thrive. He loved going to the meetings and hanging out with the club. And at the end of the year we had a ceremony to commemorate the accomplishments the club had done, and one of the awards given was Member of the Year. At the board meeting where we discussed who should be given what award, the president of the club immediately suggested Abraham as the recipient for Member of the Year. The vote on that was unanimous.

I was never prouder when I stood up to give the award, speaking about this member always being the most enthusiastic at meetings, always bringing a smile, always laughing first at every joke, jumping into any activity with real joy, and of course being the very first to complete his hours. I’ll never forget when Abraham’s mother burst into tears when I announced his name; she was over the moon with pride at her son for earning that award. There was never any doubt among anyone in the club he had earned it.

A few years later, I emailed my old Spanish teacher and asked how Abraham was doing. She said he had graduated and was taking courses at a college, and he still talks about KEY club being the happiest time of his life. He still has his award on display at his home.

He Fought The Law… And Won

, , , , , | Learning | February 22, 2019

(In our high school, we have this one teacher that absolutely HATES phones. Doesn’t matter if it is a flip phone, a smart phone, a hand phone, or even one of those red old-school phones with the dial; if she sees anyone with their phone out, she will confiscate the phones and have them returned by the end of the day, and that’s after threatening to call parents and giving the offending student a half-hour talk after school. Even students who don’t have her and are just passing through the hallway in front of her door could have their phones taken. She is a bit… unstable… and if you’re wondering why parents and students don’t complain about her, they do, but she’s the only teacher teaching the subject right now, and admittedly, she’s pretty high quality compared to rest of the teachers at our school when she isn’t being super unpredictable, so nobody really takes any action against her. At the beginning of every year, she prints out and forces students to sign a contract stating that they won’t have phones in class or else she will confiscate them. Because the contract is signed by the students, the principal can’t find fault, so this kind of behavior continues for a good amount of time. That is, until one kid joins us midway throughout the school year. He’s not too late to be hindered by the new coursework, but new enough that nobody really knows him. He also has the same teacher as I do for homeroom, which means we are supposed to spend the next four years of our high school together. If I were to describe him, I’d say just picture him as a tall Asian guy with pretty unkempt hair and glasses; he’s pretty quiet, so naturally, not a lot of people expect much from him. This happens on the first day he joins our homeroom, the first time the teacher ever met him.)

Teacher: *slamming contract down in front of [New Student] while he’s scrolling through his phone* “I won’t allow any students of mine to use those worthless pieces of plastic in my class. You’re going to sign this contract. Read over it carefully, and if you break any parts of it, I will deal out punishments labeled on it as I see fit.”

(Everyone in the room is watching them, waiting to see what will happen. [New Student] signs the contract after barely reading it, before going immediately back to his phone. We can see a vein bulging in the teacher’s temple as she forces the contract in front of [New Student]’s phone screen.)

Teacher: *barely managing to keep it together* “Did you not read the contract?”

New Student: *just puts the contract back on the desk* “I did.”

Teacher: *tries to take the phone out of [New Student]’s hand* “Then give me the phone. You signed a contract stating that you wouldn’t use a phone in class, and since you’re using it, I’m going to have to confiscate it; you can have it back at the end of the day.”

New Student: *not even looking up, but wrenches the phone back* “Well, technically, contracts signed by a minor are not legally binding, so… yeah.”

(We could literally hear a pin drop in the silence that follows. The moment the teacher furiously leaves the classroom, we all sort of just crowd around [New Student] and congratulate him for standing up to the teacher that way.)

Student: “Is that true, that contracts signed by minors aren’t legally binding?”

New Student: *still scrolling through his phone* “Yep.”

(The whole class basically starts worshipping him at this point. Fast forward a few minutes: the teacher comes back with the principal and two security guards.)

Teacher: *points at [New Student], who is still scrolling through his phone* “There! That’s the student who disrespected me!”

Principal: “Calm down, [Teacher]. Let me handle this.” *kneels in front of [New Student], who looks up at him* “Hey. You’re the new kid, right?”

New Student: *nods*

Principal: *gestures towards [Teacher]* “Well, I just received a report from your teacher that you were being very disrespectful towards her in class today. Do you want to tell me what happened?”

New Student: *shrugs* “She made me sign a contract stating that I wasn’t to use my phone in her class, but since contracts signed by minors aren’t legally binding, I don’t have the follow said contract.”

Principal: *blinks before standing up* “I see.”

Teacher: “See?! He admits it!”

Principal: *to [Teacher]* “Well, technically, he’s right, so–“

Teacher: *screeching* “WHAT?”

(Cue the unpredictability mentioned earlier. [Teacher] went BALLISTIC, pounding desks with her hands and throwing chairs around. Security quickly restrained her and escorted the students out of there. The principal immediately fired her. She was signed up for anger management classes… for obvious reasons. As for [New Student], he got a detention, since he was technically disrespecting the teacher, but recently, I’ve found out he is going to a law school, so kudos for him.)

Bit Off More Than It Could Chew

, , , , , | Friendly | February 20, 2019

(I overhear this conversation between my English teacher and one of the other English teachers before class. My teacher is holding her computer charger.)

Teacher: “So, you know, cats are like sharks. They don’t bite things to bite them; they bite them to feel them since they don’t have hands. Well, [Cat] quickly found out just how ‘spicy’ this wire was yesterday.”

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