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What If There’s A Fire?!

, , , , , , , , , | Learning | October 4, 2021

My school was overcrowded. We had around ten times as many students as the building was originally built for. This led to some issues.

One issue was that students were always late to class. The building was built in a cross shape. Students were continually funneled from one side of the building to another, and the only way through was a narrow four-way intersection hallway that was built when kids were skinnier; it was wide enough to fit two skinny kids, one and a half normal kids, or one big kid.

Worse, freshman lockers were on the top floor and our classes were all on the bottom floor. Senior lockers were on the bottom floor and their classes on the top floor. Regardless, everyone was going to the bottom floor because there was no intersection between the four lobes of the school on any floor but the first floor.

We used to be able to go through the library on the second floor, which was much wider, in my first year. They locked the “back” doors to the library to stop students from doing that, making the traffic jam much worse.

The administration’s solution was to increase time between classes. My first year, they gave us five minutes to get from one class to the next. By the time I graduated, we were given fifteen minutes.

Another side effect of this overcrowding was that the cafeteria was too small to fit all of us, and the lines were too long for all of us to get fed. To help with the fitting problem, they broke lunch into two different forty-five-minute lunches my first semester. They still couldn’t fit everyone in, so they broke it into three different thirty-minute lunches in my second semester. That didn’t work, either, so they broke it into four different fifteen-minute lunches, year two and on.

Remember the cross shape of our school? The cafeteria was in the basement, and the stairs into it were right by the four-way intersection.

The funniest, most hilarious result of this was the fire inspections.

We had more students per room than were allowed. We had more chairs per room than allowed. Each room had several folding chairs hidden in the storage closets that had to be taken down between classes and reopened when the students came.

Some students carried their own cloth folding chairs through the hall, like people use for fireworks or sporting events.

Fire inspection days were marked on the calendar. The whole student body came together the day before to empty most of the chairs out of the classrooms and get them to the chair storage room in the basement next to the cafeteria.

Then, on the actual fire inspection day, each classroom would have maybe twenty to thirty students instead of the seventy to ninety they usually had — the larger classrooms usually kept sixty of 200 or so — and a student-teacher or a temp would lecture the kids actually in the classroom, who were usually the highest-graded students.

The actual teachers and remaining kids from each class were taken to the bleachers around the football field, the bleachers in the gym around the basketball court and hockey rinks, the swimming pool bleachers, the wrestling bleachers, the bleachers around the track, the bleachers around the soccer field, and the baseball bleachers, and they would hold classes on those precarious structures. Even the tennis court bleachers would be filled with students and teachers!

I always wondered if we could get enough space to actually fit all our students if we got rid of the more than ten different sports complexes we had.

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The Wrath Of The Lunch Lady Scorned

, , , , , , | Learning | CREDIT: BraxHecker | September 6, 2021

I am sixteen and I have type-one diabetes. I have been diagnosed for a bit more than a year and a half. I’ve kept good control over it and the doctors are always impressed when I have a checkup.

I take insulin ten to fifteen minutes before I eat so it has time to take effect. With the school lunch, there are two options: a chicken salad and a cheeseburger. I decide to go with the cheeseburger. I take my insulin and go up the line. I grab a to-go box, but before I take two steps:

Friend: “Wait, that’s a salad.”

I set the box back down and go to grab a different box, but the lunch lady shouts at me.

Lunch Lady: “Hey, don’t you dare!”

I look at her and she looks at me like I just slapped a puppy in the face.

Me: “What’s wrong?”

Lunch Lady: “You already grabbed the salad, so you have to take the salad.”

Me: “But I haven’t even opened it. I’m a diabetic and I already took insulin.”

She shakes her head.

Lunch Lady: *Sickly sweet* “I’m sorry, that’s not my problem. Take the salad and go sit down now!”

Me: “But I’m a diabetic, and—”

Lunch Lady: “Take the salad or you don’t get anything.”

I’m a little pissed at this point so I take the salad and go off to my table with my friends and tell them the situation. They removed the vending machines in the cafeteria over the summer so there is no way for me to get the correct amount of carbs without stealing another kid’s cheeseburger. One of my friends tells me I should go get the principal quickly before the insulting fully sets in.

I go to the office and tell him and the counselor the situation, a little panicked because it has been well over ten minutes since I took insulin. The principal walks me back up to the cafeteria.

Principal: “[Lunch Lady], give him the cheeseburger. He really needs it.”

Lunch Lady: “But he already took a salad. He can deal with it.”

The principal just sighs, grabs the cheeseburger box, and shoves it into my hands and tells me to go sit down. I sit relatively close to the lunch line so my friends and I can hear the principal.

Principal: “How you acted was truly out of line. I thought you understood to treat students’ health situations with care and understanding.”

He told her off for another minute before heading back to his office, and I got to eat my lunch in peace. Maybe she’ll know better next time.

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How To Break A Principal

, , , , , , , , | Learning | August 28, 2021

Many years ago, my school system separated sixth, seventh, and eighth grades each into their own schools. The eighth-grade principal was still committed to maintaining the tradition of middle-school grades having the ridiculous and very specific school-system-wide dress code unforgivingly enforced upon them (and only them).

Early in the first full week of school, the principal announced that he was sick of students saying they didn’t know something was forbidden by the dress code that was in the handbooks he hadn’t given us yet. Because of this, we were to have an assembly where we’d be given the handbook as we walked in and he’d read the entire student handbook to us as we followed along, so we’d have no excuse.

He was so in control that, after we were seated, the other adults would leave. After all, since the bleachers couldn’t hold us all, it’d only be half the grade at a time — boys on the first day, girls on the second. Reading to the boys went just as planned, but on day two…

The principal had droned on through the handbook and was just getting started on the several pages devoted to the dress code.

“Sleeves must be no less than two inches wide. Students may not wear shirts or dresses in the style of tank tops, halter tops, or spaghetti straps. Students may not wear clothes, such as T-shirts, that display profanity or promote substances such as alcohol, tobacco, or any other illicit substance. All clothing must be hemmed and intact. Students may not wear clothes…”

We turned the page. The principal didn’t. He paused, longer and longer. We waited anxiously for him to go on — make a joke, retroactively ignore it, anything.

His eyes widened all, deer-in-the-headlights, as he started staring into the middle distance.

Please, man, clear your throat, cough, something. Don’t leave us here, we silently begged with small, excusable hand motions and urgent faces.

His jaw slowly dropped and his lips started quivering.

For the love of God, man! Bigger gestures, desperate faces.

The principal stood there, transfixed.

There was no changing it, so we gave up. Some of us started counting the seconds. How long could this go on? We all knew what the next words were supposed to be, but that didn’t change what happened — the words that came out of his mouth — and, by not continuing, he left us stuck, too. We resisted as long as we could.

Did the principal…

Five seconds. Scattered murmuring in the crowd. “Did he mean it?” “Couldn’t have.” “Yeah, but still…”

…just say that…

Ten seconds. Someone laughed and was quieted.

…we have to…

Fifteen seconds. A girl coughed from the stress.

…come to school…

Twenty seconds. Collective gulp.

…naked?!

Twenty-five seconds after the principal last changed — to say nothing of when he last made a sound — we couldn’t take it anymore and the gym of 250 thirteen-year-old girls burst into uncontrollable laughter.

The principal stood there like a terrified statue for several more minutes as we continued laughing. We couldn’t help it; we’d try to get a hold of ourselves but glance up at this art piece of a petrified man and find ourselves laughing harder than when we’d started. After a while, the principal went from “freeze” to “flight” and darted out of the gym, leaving us laughing girls unsupervised.

The whole lot of us laughed together for several minutes. It took another several minutes for spurts of laughter not to spread across the whole group. We had never considered that a school official might tell us we must go nude before abandoning us. But the laughter faded, scattered bursts lessened, and we went to quietly chatting with whoever happened to be around. We whispered about the principal, the page-break-o’-doom, and his eventual bolting, and began to talk about other things, waiting for the vice-principal to show up or the principal to return.

Eventually, word about the time started spreading: we’d been adult-less for over half an hour and we’d been gone longer than the boys were the previous day, yet nobody had come for us. We’d only been in that school a few days; we had no idea who we could go to when the principal flaked. We collectively decided the best time and way to leave — slowly, not long before the next bell to change classes — and that we should be super-good because this was bad enough without giving any reason for people to think we’d use this to break rules.

With five minutes to go, a teacher popped her head in and looked around.

“Where’s [Principal]?”

The room threw up its hands in a collective shrug. The cluster of girls nearest that door became our speakers. They told the teacher how long we’d been alone, that it all started because of an awkward page-break and failure to go on, and that none of us could talk about a further explanation. Everyone agreed. The teacher got some pencils and paper for us to write anonymous accounts if we wanted while school employees searched for the principal.

Ten minutes later, the principal shuffled in with downcast eyes, quickly read the rest of the handbook in a robotic monotone, and shuffled back out, never looking up. The teacher who’d come in earlier passed around a box to collect our consistent accounts of what happened and gave us excuses for being late as we left.

It was an awkward (but unifying) couple of weeks for us girls, nothing worse, as we never had to say anything more than we wanted to. But the principal… The display of power he’d intended instead led to him being caught in the worst page-break and led to all the girls in the school laughing their heads off, toward him, if not precisely at him. The man broke. It was weeks before he’d interact with a female student, and even then, he couldn’t do it empty-handed — he needed a school-office version of a blankie for this scary task — and he didn’t look a girl in the eye the whole first semester. Pitiable and also creepy. Creepier than the mistake that led to it all.

Thus ends the story of how hubris, a page-break, and inability to recover from a verbal flub broke a principal and the degree to which this brokenness prevented him from doing his job. What this broken man did to regain a sense of more and more power and the interesting places that led is another tale.

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Graduating To A New Level Of Stupid

, , , , , , | Learning | CREDIT: Brandilio | June 18, 2021

Back in 2013, I was a senior at a high school I had just transferred to. I had moved earlier in the year because my parents got divorced, and I made the deliberate choice to leave my old high school and move in with my dad, attending a new high school.

Normally, switching schools isn’t a huge deal, but it was sort of an abrupt move; I wasn’t able to take any of the AP classes I normally would have taken because they all had mandatory summer projects that I wouldn’t have been able to do in a week.

Additionally, a week into the school year, we were told about this stupid senior project they wanted us to do. In a nutshell, there was some acronym — IMPACT or something — and each letter represented a value of the school. They wanted us to write about how IMPACT had influenced us in our time at the school. We were then told that, should we NOT do the senior project, we wouldn’t be able to walk for graduation. Oh, no!

I heard this and thought it was stupid for a number of reasons, not the least of which being that I had only just gotten there, so their dumb acronym didn’t mean anything to me. I brought this concern up to the lady telling us about the project, and her response was that I just “figure something out or don’t walk.”

Well, okay, then.

I brought it up with my dad, asked if he gave a hot s*** whether or not I walked for a high school graduation. He did not. So I just figured that I wouldn’t do the project. End of story, right?

Wrong.

You see, a few months into this senior project, they did a checkup on every senior. We just lined up in our homeroom to talk to some lady from the principal’s office and told her how close we were to being done. When I walked up, I told her that I wasn’t doing it.

Lady: *Confused* “You’re not going to do it? You have to. It’s non-negotiable.”

Me: “No, it’s not. I don’t have to do it.”

Lady: “But you won’t walk if you don’t do it.”

Me: “Yeah.”

Then we just sort of stared at each other, and she wrote my name down and shooed me away. I correctly assumed that this would not be the last interaction I had regarding this non-issue. Several weeks later, my suspicions were confirmed when I was pulled out of class and brought into the main office.

They ushered me into the vice principal’s personal office, where she made a bit of a show of pulling out some papers. She told me that the meeting was regarding a misunderstanding I may have had regarding the senior project. She was apparently told that I didn’t know what to do for the assignment and I had chosen to boycott the whole thing as a result. I quickly corrected her.

Me: “I very clearly understand what you want me to do, but I think it’s stupid and I’m not going to do it. I understand the penalty for not doing it and I’m fine with that.”

She, like the first lady, seemed confused by this course of action and just let me leave, since there wasn’t really much of a conversation to be had.

A few more weeks later, I got pulled out of yet another class for this same thing. Again, I was brought up to the vice principal for a one-on-one. When I got there, she looked like the cat that ate the canary.

Vice Principal: “So, I know you were in here a while ago, and you said you didn’t want to do your senior project—”

Me: *Interrupting* “No. I said wasn’t doing the project.”

Vice Principal: “Well, we had a chat with your mother over the phone earlier this week. She told us that she really wants you to walk at your graduation.”

I was quiet for a moment.

Me: “Um… I live with my dad.”

Vice Principal: “Right, but your mom said she’d like to attend the ceremony and see you walk.”

Me: “I don’t think you get it. I live with my dad for a reason.

If ever there were an expression that perfectly exemplified the dial-up tone, that’s the face she made. After she collected herself, I was released and headed back to class.

By this point, I was mostly just not doing the project because it was dumb. But them calling a family member to strong-arm me was crossing a line. On top of that, they tried to strong-arm me using a parent with whom I was no-contact. I decided right then that, no matter what, I wasn’t caving into their bulls***. F*** the project, f*** the school, and f*** the weird tactics they were trying to use. However, in my anger was also confusion. Why did these people care so much about one guy not doing an optional assignment? I had made myself very clear, so was that the end of it?

Spoiler: it wasn’t.

A few more weeks later, I got pulled into the actual principal’s office. The principal, for reference, was one of those guys that tried to make a show of being overly friendly and goofy but to the point where it came off as superficial. When I got to his office, he was his usual extroverted self, greeted me, and sat me down.

Principal: “I’ve heard about this whole senior project problem you’ve had going on. And I get it. Trust me, I really do; you’re new here, so our motto hasn’t had as much of an impression. So, after talking about it with the folks grading the projects, we think it’d be just fine if you had a modified project. Just do a project on one letter of IMPACT, and you’re golden.”

He gave me a big warm smile.

Me: “No.”

Principal: *Smiling* “Sorry?”

Me: “I’m not doing it.”

His smile was slowly fading now.

Principal: “But you only have to do one letter. It’s really not that much.”

Me: “Yeah, I got that. I’m still not going to do it.”

Principal: “But you won’t be able to walk on graduation day.”

Me: “Yep.”

Principal: “So what’s the issue, exactly?”

Me: “You called my mom.”

His mouth was open like he was going to say something, but I guess nothing came to mind, as we sat in silence for a good twenty seconds — him trying to formulate an argument and me staring back blankly.

Me: “If that’s everything you need to talk about, I’ll be heading back to class.”

He didn’t protest, so I just left.

It was after this meeting that I eventually got some context. Apparently, California schools will shuffle principals around every few years for some reason that probably makes sense, but I don’t care enough to research. Our principal was going to be switching schools after the 2013 semester had ended, and one of his big plans was to leave that high school with 100% participation in the senior projects that would otherwise not affect any final grade.

He used the threat of preventing students from walking at graduation to bully everyone into doing the dumb project — almost everyone. I stuck to my guns and refused to do it. And sure enough, after the deadline had passed, they made a big deal about how happy they were that 99.6% of students completed their senior projects, even though they were hoping for 100%.

And the absolute dumbest part about this exercise in stupid? After everything was said and done, I was called in one last time to the VP’s office. She told me that, despite my refusal to do the senior project, they were still going to let me walk, and they gave me five tickets for friends and family. I laughed, walked out without the tickets, and didn’t attend my own graduation.


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

Read the next Best Of June 2021 roundup story!

Read the Best Of June 2021 roundup!

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We’re Too Uneducated And Inexperienced To Title This

, , , , , , | Learning | CREDIT: jayda92 | May 7, 2021

When I was a teaching assistant, I used to work as a substitute teacher for very unruly classes — the classes licensed teachers wouldn’t accept. I had full responsibility and worked all hours, and my numbers showed that my class was making great progress. I just had some bad luck that caused me to not finish teaching college at that time.

Because I didn’t have my license, my boss came to me one day and told me that I was actually “too uneducated and inexperienced” to teach and that I “must have had someone telling me what to do” behind me. I told her I didn’t, but she didn’t believe me and told me she’ll be watching me like a hawk to see if I was fraudulent, changing grades and stuff.

I never did anything to my students. I’m not a cruel person and I didn’t want anyone implying that I wasn’t doing my job as expected. They all got to the next year with scores higher than we would’ve expected beforehand.

But. I started to behave like a beginner student teacher, to my boss only! I asked really stupid questions like, “How can I make my class quiet? I’m really too uneducated to know, so can you please help this teacher out by showing me?” I knew fully well that my formerly disruptive class wouldn’t ever listen to her. I called her for anything and everything: a parent wanting to talk to me, a kid who fell down and needed a band-aid… anything. I made sure to tell her I was too uneducated and inexperienced to handle such a task and I needed to observe a true pro work.

My colleagues got in on it, too. They started pointing out everything I wasn’t allowed to do but expected to do, and they told my boss that she was being very hypocritical by expecting me to do so.

In the meantime, I was discussing gamification, the need for programming and English in primary school, showing older colleagues new teaching methods and digital assistance… All the goodies.

After six weeks, my boss was done. She called me to her office and apologized to me for saying that I was too uneducated and inexperienced. She said she was renewing my contract and got some budget to pay for half of my studies.

I was happy to tell her that I gotten a new job that would pay for everything to get me my license and I would get full creative freedom… without being watched like a hawk.

This was two years ago. I almost have my license now and I still work at that awesome school that hired me after the allegations of being “uneducated and inexperienced” at my old job.

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