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, , , , , , | Learning | July 24, 2021

I attended elementary school — kindergarten through fifth grade — from the early to mid-1990s. Every year for Halloween, and the three days leading up to it, our entire school became a haunted house. The ticket sales went to various other school programs and activities. This being an elementary school, you might think it was more of a kid-friendly haunted house. Nope, it was an actual haunted house. The different rooms didn’t change much, but it was pretty gruesome and people really got into it. A lot of parents would help out and the high school even gave extra credit to the students who volunteered to help. Considering how conservative the little town we lived in was at the time, I’m surprised they were even allowed to start this, let alone keep it going for nearly twenty years.

The final scare at the end of the haunted house happened when you reached the cafeteria. A man, usually one of the coaches from the high school, popped out in a Jason mask while revving a real chainsaw (with the saw chain removed) and chased you through a wooden maze that had been built in the cafeteria.

By my fifth grade year, my friends and I weren’t really scared by the haunted house anymore, since most of the scares were the same every year. We were part of the first group to go through and were mostly giggling and goofing around. We made it to the cafeteria, but we weren’t sure when or where Jason would pop out.

We made it nearly to the end of the maze when Jason appeared, revving his chainsaw. The people at the front of our group screamed and ran out the door to the school lobby. One of my friends thought he’d be funny and decided to dart through Jason’s legs on his way out. Jason lurched back, sending the chainsaw over his head and into one of the maze walls. We all froze when we heard the sound of wood splitting and the chainsaw choking as it got stuck.

A teacher who’d been monitoring the area came running in and turned the lights on. There, stuck in the maze wall, was a chainsaw that most definitely still had the blades on. Coach Jason had forgotten to take the chain off.

The teacher herded us out of there while Jason tried to get the chainsaw free. They shut the haunted house down for about an hour while all the teachers met and talked about what to do. Different volunteers dressed as monsters, zombies, etc., switched in and out of the cafeteria for the rest of that Halloween season. They kept doing the haunted house for several years after I graduated on to middle school, but they never had Jason back again.

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

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If I Was Their Parent, I’d Have Ripped That Teacher A New One

, , , , , | Learning | July 20, 2021

I attended a Catholic school my entire primary school life, kindergarten to twelfth grade. Due to the mandatory cutoff date for when you can start school, I’m one of the youngest in my class; I was four when I started kindergarten.

In 1979, when I was five years old and in the first grade, I had a nun for a teacher. Our school required us to get book covers for all our textbooks. So, being young and not very neat, I pulled out one of my books for class, and the book cover was torn. Keep in mind this was a paper cover and the book was a hardcover, so there was no damage to the book itself.

The teacher looked at my book cover and then at me.

Teacher: “You’re going to Hell for having a ripped book cover.”

She walked away, and I was left terrified, a five-year-old told by my teacher that I was going to Hell. I couldn’t even tell my parents because they would take the teacher’s side.

And some people wonder why I stopped going to church when I was eighteen. This wasn’t the only reason, but it was probably the first.

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Carrying The Banner For Bad Phrasing

, , , , , , | Learning | July 18, 2021

In high school, I’m in a musical that takes place in New York around the turn of the twentieth century. One of our musical numbers is performed by a group of girls who are referred to in the script as “Bowery Beauties.” We’re at rehearsal, but we’re also on lunch break, and one of our directors is darting around to different tables.

He comes to our table, which is completely composed of girls.

Director: “Have you seen any Beauties around here?”

We connect the dots pretty quickly and figure out that he’s asking for the actresses, so we help him as best we can. He thanks us and leaves.

A minute later, he comes back to our table with an apology, reassuring us that we are all beauties and he shouldn’t have phrased it that way. I had a lot of not-so-great experiences in that theater, but that was one thing I’ll always remember in a positive light.

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Be Careful Who You Step On When You Stamp Out Racism

, , , , , , , | Learning | July 15, 2021

We’re on the train to school camp. I’m playing chess with [Classmate #1]. Meanwhile, [Classmate #2] is chatting with the homeroom teacher of another class.

Classmate #2: *Loudly* “And [Classmate #1] never does his homework.”

Classmate #1: “Huh?!”

Me: “Pot calling the kettle black!”

Classmate #2: “Ah-ha! Everyone, [My Name] is being racist! He called [Classmate #1] black!”

Me: “Oh, s***.”

I forgot that [Classmate #1] is African-American.

Me: “No! I didn’t mean it that way!”

Classmate #1: “Yeah, I know. No offence taken.”

He turns to face [Classmate #2].

Classmate #1: “What do you mean, I never hand in homework, you hypocrite? You’re the one that hands in the least amount of homework in class!”

The argument continues on for a while, but eventually, our own homeroom teacher shuts us all up. She comes up to me afterward.

Teacher: “And what’s this about you being racist?”

Me: “Nothing. It was just a badly-used phrase.”

She frowns a bit and then looks at the chessboard.

Teacher: “When we get back, I want you writing lines about not being racist.”

Me: “Why?! I’m not racist!”

Teacher: “Uh-huh.” *Picks up my queen* “Then why are you making the African-American boy play black?”

Classmate #1: “Hey, I prefer black in chess. I like going second. I chose it.”

Teacher: “Don’t worry. You don’t need to defend him. I’ll sort [My Name] out when we get back to school.”

Me: *Sighs* “I can see that I’m not winning this argument. But I insist that you talk to my father about this.”

Teacher: “Oh, I will. He needs to know that racism is intolerable and that such behaviour will not be tolerated in this school.”

She then flips around the chessboard, such that [Classmate #1] now has white.

Teacher: “And if I see you being racist to anyone ever again, I swear to God that I will find a way to drum your a** out of school faster than you can say ‘goodbye’.”

She smugly trotted off. [Classmate #1] and I sighed and continued playing.

The look on her face when she saw my father a few weeks later was priceless. I looked absurdly like my white mother, so nobody realised that my father was an African-American. Naturally, he disbelieved every single accusation of me being racist and basically ordered [Teacher] to let me off the hook.

She did that, but she always gave me the stink-eye in every homeroom. I was really glad to leave her behind when I graduated.

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Some People Shouldn’t Work With Children

, , , , , | Learning | July 4, 2021

I am a single father with an eight-year-old son. My wife was killed in a car accident when my son was three. My son’s second-grade teacher is the kind of teacher we all pray that our children can avoid; she takes great joy in yelling at children for such heinous crimes as “writing with your left hand” (which my son deals with every day, because this is the twenty-first century and I refuse to force my son to be uncomfortable when he’s writing) or “girls playing with boy’s toys” and vice versa, or “having a nickname that is different than the name on my class roster” (such as going by Katie when the class roster says Katherine).

Not only does she regularly yell at children for these oh-so-dangerous acts, but she also calls their parents afterward to ask what they will do to “fix” their child, and she often belittles their parenting skills. Several parents, including myself, have petitioned the school board to have her removed, but the school board keeps giving her “one last chance” to improve. The school principal has also voiced his belief that [Teacher] should not be in class, but he cannot fire teachers without the school board’s approval, so he’s in the same boat we are.

The final straw is when the teacher calls me with this.

Me: “Hello, [Teacher], how can I help you?”

Teacher: “Hello, Mr. [My Name]. Is Mrs. [My Name] available?”

Me: “No, she’s still in the grave, as I’ve told you many, many times now. If this is about [Son], what is it?”

Teacher: “Oh, well… [Son] was fighting with another student today.”

Me: “[Son]? Today?”

Teacher: “Yes. I have informed [Principal] of the fight, and [Son] will be given recess detention for one week as punishment.”

Me: “[Teacher], I can guarantee you that [Son] was not fighting anyone at school today. He—”

Teacher: “He certainly was! Now, please speak with him tonight about his behavior, because this is clearly unacceptable. You know, you really should find a wife. [Son] clearly needs a mother figure.”

Me: “Goodbye, [Teacher].”

I hang up before she can say another word, and the next morning, I head to the school to speak with the principal. The principal calls [Teacher] down to his office, as well.

Principal: “[Teacher], I understand you called [My Name] last night about [Son]’s fight?”

Teacher: “Yes, I did. You have my report on the fight.”

Principal: “Well, then we have a few problems. First, are you aware that [Son] was not in school yesterday? According to [School Secretary]’s notes, [My Name] called in yesterday morning because [Son] was sick and would be staying home.”

Teacher: “That’s impossible! I very clearly remember yelling at [Son] for fighting.”

Principal: “[My Name], can you verify that [Son] was at home yesterday?”

Me: “I can go get the T-shirt he puked on while we were cuddling, if that works.”

Principal: *Chuckling* “Understood. Please accept my apology for [Teacher]’s behavior. I’ll let you get home and take care of [Son]. I hope he feels better soon. [Teacher], can you stay behind for a few minutes, please?”

I said my goodbyes and headed home. A few hours later, I got an email from the school to the parents of all students in [Teacher]’s class. [Teacher] was finally fired! I later heard from other parents that, while there had been a fight, [Teacher] had knowingly falsified her report by including my son’s name, despite her own attendance records showing that she knew my son was absent that day. This prompted the school board to investigate other reports she had filed, and enough reports were found to contain false information that she was fired.

As of my writing this story, my son has recovered fully and returned to school, and his class is being taught by the school principal until they can find a long-term substitute.

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

Read the next Best Of July 2021 roundup story!

Read the Best Of July 2021 roundup!

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