Inattentive About Attendance

, , , , , , | Learning | April 23, 2021

Back when I was in middle school, when students completed eighth grade, the school would have a “graduation” to celebrate the student’s move up to high school. This graduation was similar to high school graduation; however, it focused more on the achievements of students, with many awards given. From academic achievements to sports achievements, almost every student received an award.

I was always a high achieving student, but I was never the top one — I missed being in the top 5% of my graduating class from high school by one person, for example — so I knew it was unlikely I would receive any academic awards.

My claim to fame at the time was the fact that I hadn’t missed a day of school since kindergarten. I know, nowadays everyone realizes how bad it is to give an award for coming to school when sick, but back then it really mattered to me. To get the perfect attendance award at the graduation, you had to not have missed a single day of seventh and eighth grade: two full years of classes you had to go to. And I had.

This was additionally impressive because I had a birth deformity that caused me to have over a dozen surgeries by the time I graduated high school. Over my time in middle school, I had two surgeries. Despite being in tremendous pain and taking strong painkillers, I was always in school long enough for it to count.

The day before the graduation, I went to the front office to ask a question about something unrelated and got on the topic of graduation with the secretary who was assisting me. I asked about the perfect attendance award, and while she told me she wasn’t allowed to release the names of who was getting what award before graduation, she did know there was one name for that award. I thought that confirmed it; I was guaranteed at least one award.

The next evening was graduation. I was super excited, as is any student; we all thought we were so cool, about to start high school. The night was wearing on, and we got to the final few awards. I hadn’t received a single award, which I expected, but I wasn’t upset because I knew my award was coming. Finally, they announced the award, went on a spiel about how some years no one wins this award, but this year there was one!

I was getting ready to stand, as I was also on crutches for an unrelated injury to my ankle; the student sitting next to me knew I was expecting this award and had agreed to help me stand up when it came.

They announced the name… and it wasn’t me. I was so upset, and the other kid looked a bit confused. I almost started crying at graduation. The awards finished and I didn’t receive anything.

I found a friend and expressed how upset I was, and he mentioned that we should talk to the guidance counselor. We eventually found her, and I expressed how upset I was that my name wasn’t called for the award. She initially gave me some pushback — apparently, a computer program spits out the correct students for each award so it’s “never wrong” — but I pushed too. She said she would check as a favour to me, and we left her.

Before the end of the night, the counselor found me again with my parents. She told me she’d read the program incorrectly; I was the only person to get perfect attendance. The student whose name was called had only missed one day and was second on the list. She told me she would print out another certificate and get it dropped off at my homeroom for the next morning.

At this point, it meant nothing to me. As a middle schooler who was smart but not the smartest, athletic but not the most athletic, and going through what I would later realize was a depressive episode, this was supposed to be my one moment to shine. My homeroom teacher the next morning tried to make a point to present my award, but no one really cared. I got home and threw the award away.

I learned my lesson, though: my next surgery, I took an entire week off school and really milked my recovery period.

Eight years later in college, I now have problems seeing the importance of attending classes, because that one teacher let me down when it meant the most to me.

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We Can Only Draw One Conclusion: SHE’S A WITCH!

, , , , , , | Learning | April 21, 2021

My two best friends and I are in sixth grade — age twelve — and have a mandatory art class. We are spending a week drawing houses. Our first assignment is to draw our own house.

[Friend #1] draws her house, but she forgets to draw one of her parents’ bedroom windows. That night, it storms very badly, and a tree falls in such a way that the window she forgot to draw is broken by a tree branch crashing through it.

The next day, we are supposed to draw a house that exists and that we wished we lived in. [Friend #1] draws [Friend #2]’s house, but she forgets to draw the garage. The previous night’s storm had affected the soil of the hill beside that house, and [Friend #2] comes home to find that a tree has fallen on the (empty!) garage. 

The next day, we are supposed to draw the house of a friend. 

Friend #1: “I guess I’ll draw your house, [My Name].”

Me: “Nope! Not allowed! No, thank you, please! I like my house perfectly intact and how it is, thank you very much!”

Friend #1: “But I already drew [Friend #2’s] house!”

Friend #2: “Yeah, and look what happened to it! And what happened to your house! If you forget to draw anything at [My Name’s] house, we won’t be able to go to her sleepover this weekend.”

Me: “Hey, weren’t you friends with [Former Classmate] before she moved?”

Friend #1: “Yeah, why?”

Me: “My mom’s coworker bought it, and Mom said they’re tearing it down so they can build their dream house! So if you mess it up with your weird drawing power, it won’t matter!”

Friend #1: “I don’t think I had anything to do with the garage or the windows, but fine, whatever.”

[Friend #1] draws [Former Classmate]’s house, forgetting to draw the sizable front deck. That house is on a very busy road, right across from a T-intersection. As my mom picks me up from school, she tells me we are taking a different way home than usual.

Mom: “Yeah, it’s a good thing [Former Classmate] moved! Someone crashed into her house and destroyed the deck.”

I call [Friend #1] when I get home and relay the information. 

Friend #1: “Okay, you know what? Fine. I thought you and [Friend #2] were just being weird about all this, but I guess I have to believe you. I’m drawing made-up houses the rest of the week.”

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Pretty And Witty And Very Literal

, , , , | Learning | April 6, 2021

I learned what the word “gay” means through an old song that uses it to mean “happy.” Being the oblivious girl I was, I didn’t realize that most kids didn’t know “gay” has two meanings, or that homophobia was a thing, until about eighth grade.

Once upon a time, about a dozen years ago, I was an undiagnosed autistic sixth-grader. A gaggle of girls sauntered over to me at recess, and one of them asked the strangest question.

Girl: “Are you gay?”

Me: “Which kind of gay do you mean?”

There is silence, a pause, and confusion all around.

Girl: “What?”

Me: “Well, there are two meanings. There’s happy, like—” *singing* “—‘happy and gay the live-long way.’ And then there’s ‘gay’ meaning, um, guys like liking guys or girls like liking girls.”

Again, silence. She’s not clarifying her question, but I’m going to do my best to answer. After all, maybe she’s asking to make sure I’m doing okay, or because she likes me, or maybe she’s confused, and hearing someone else’s story could help her figure herself out.

Me: “I mean, if you meant ‘happy,’ then yeah, I guess I’m pretty gay right now. I’m pretty happy. If you meant, um, the other one, then I guess I don’t know? I know I like guys, but maybe I like girls, too? I haven’t had many crushes, so maybe it’s just a coincidence they’re all boys? I know I’m not all gay, but maybe partly?”

The girls are slowly backing away. I don’t know how they expected this conversation to go, but this certainly isn’t it.

Me: “I’m like, 90% certain I’m not that kind of gay, but if I figure out I am, I’ll let you know, okay?”

They didn’t really talk to me much after that. I’ve since lost contact with them.


This story is part of our Best Of April 2021 roundup!

Read the next Best Of April 2021 roundup story!

Read the Best Of April 2021 roundup!

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To Be Fair, A Middle-Schooler On YouTube Is Usually Up To No Good

, , , , | Learning | February 28, 2021

In middle school, I am in an honors English program. I love it, but since it is a small school and very few students are eligible, we don’t have a normal class for it and instead do all of our work online, using the computers in the school library. It might look odd to an outsider — two kids sitting quietly on computers in an otherwise empty library — but this is the only time I realize how weird it could look.

An adult visitor is going around the school for reasons I never bothered to find out. He sees my singular classmate and me on the computers and comes over, despite the fact that we are both wearing headphones.

Visitor: “So, what are you up to?”

Me: “English class.”

The visitor takes a look at my screen, clearly able to see a word processor in one window and YouTube in another. The video, which is paused, is clearly marked with a movie title, and since it’s animated, there’s no mistaking it for anything traditionally academic.

Visitor: “You’re just watching movies?”

Me: “It’s for our media literacy project. We’re each analyzing a movie and I chose [Movie].”

Visitor: “But you’re still watching movies.”

Me: “Just this one.”

Visitor: “They let you watch movies all day?”

Me: “It’s a project for just this class.”

Visitor: “I can’t believe they just let you watch movies.”

He shook his head and left, and I went back to watching the movie and typing out an outline of events. I still don’t know what part of “This is for a school project” he didn’t understand.

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That’s Not How ANY Of These Things Work

, , , | Learning | February 26, 2021

I’m training to be a teacher after spending six years in customer service. I’m late for a meeting with the other trainees, which includes some veteran teachers, because my mentor and I had a meeting that ran long. I finally get to the meeting and settle in.

They are discussing how apathy is a problem and asking everyone around the table their opinions and how they think it can be dealt with.

Everyone gives some suggestions, whether it be better ways to engage students or ways to make the rules clearer until we get to this gem.

Veteran Teacher: “School is like a service and students are the customers. If they don’t like the service, they can go elsewhere. If they don’t like elsewhere, they are the problem.”

There were a few shocked faces and rolled eyes. Clearly, the veteran teacher has never worked customer service.

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