Here at the school where I work, students have a carefree lifestyle. They walk around with grins on their faces like they have not a fear in the world, not a fear until today that is.
Today is Report Card day at the high school, and judging from the students’ newest habit of nail biting and the sleepy looks on most of their faces, I would imagine that a great deal of them are a bit nervous to receive the report cards. One student called it Judgement Day.
I remember Report Card day when I was a kid. God! I still get a queasy feeling in the pit of my stomach, and I am not even attending school. I remember it like it was yesterday (thank heavens it isn’t), as our teachers would sit at the front of the class, as judgmental as could be, staring at those of us who did not do as well as we could. I was always terrified of this part of the day, and every year, on the night prior to this day, I never slept a wink.
One year, when I was struggling in science, my teacher made the mistake of writing the marks in with a pencil (hehehe). What a great report card I brought home. Mom was amazed when she seen that I had a 95% average overall, even if three courses I didn’t do. This evening got worst when mom proudly visited the school to meet with my teacher and was exposed to the truth about my marks. Can you say ouch and grounded for a month? Well at least the report card looked good on the way home on the bus. I bragged to everyone on the bus that I beat them with my marks.
My brother used to make me sick. He would never study, and he always got all ‘A’s’. I would study my ass off and come home with ‘B’s’ and maybe, if I was lucky, a ‘B+’.
School back then was nothing like it is today. Recently, they established a policy that a kid could never fail a test. Nor could a student be given a fail even if they cheated on an exam. Hell, a student can’t even fail anymore. Where is it headed I wonder?
Back in the seventh grade, while I was just 12 years old, we had a student named Kenny. (I will not give his full name because at the time he was a bully and I worry that maybe he is still a bully, and lurking somewhere in the neighborhood, waiting to punch the hell out of me one more time) Kenny failed the seventh grade (and a few more grades) several times, and despite the fact that he was 23 years old, his dad would not let him quit school. We thought the guy was a giant, and he had quite the fun harassing us kids to death. I only realized many years later that he is only 5’3″, but when you are twelve, a twenty three year old guy who is also a bully can easily take you in a fight.
Our teachers were quite different back then as well. Being raised in a Catholic school, most of the teachers were either nuns or priests, so you didn’t want to mess with them. I remember on one occasion, one of my friends got into a fight with a nun…in a mud puddle. (more on that in another blog which I plan to write later)
Back in those days, if you pissed a teacher off, you got the strap. The strap was a quarter inch strip of leather the teachers used to slap your bare hands. On one occasion, I tried making Trudy O’Quinn a set of pony tails with scotch tape. While two of my accomplices held her, I carefully wrapped tape around her hair, and later got caught by my teacher. This not only ended my hairstyling career, it resulted in twenty straps on each hand. When my teacher finished, I couldn’t even hold my pencil. I am glad we got more civilized in the coming years.
I was fortunate in that I learned quickly. I learned never to do anything dumb in front of the teacher. I also learned that teachers got even madder when they swung the strap and you moved your hand, resulting in them hitting themselves with the strap. I also learned never to laugh when this happened.
High School was not a place that worked out for me. I sucked at Gym. I was no scholar, except in English and Literature. I sucked at Mathematics. I graduated from high school with a 55 average, and life taught me better than any teacher. I went back to school after working as a logger for 20 years, and loved it. I went back and did more courses each year afterward, and right now I am planning on doing a few university courses. I hear they don’t use the strap!