Yeah, I Went to a Public High School
Today, I had lunch with a friend of mine and somehow we got onto the subject of our experiences in high school. Apparently, mine were quite out of the ordinary as when I finished several of my tales she stopped and said, “I don’t think your school is even real. Or your town. Where did they find these teachers?”
I found that quite hilarious. This was not the post that I had originally intended to make. This, however, seems far more entertaining. I think I’ll save my other, more pensive post for a later date and instead entertain everyone with some rather unbelievable experiences that I went through.
I attended a public high school in the Florida panhandle, with a class size of (roughly) 206. My high school was in the same school system and city as the elementary schools and the middle school I went to, as well as the school my mother taught at. High school in my town was grades 9-12. At that time, my graduating class was the biggest class to have ever come out of our school (or any school in the county, as we are the county seat), so we were supposed to be the best school in the county too (not including private schools). I graduated in 2010, and I don’t know if I could have graduated at a better time. I love my little town and the school I went to, but some things are just crazy. So, here are my stories, and I hope everyone enjoys them (because they are pretty funny or just insane, for the most part).
Story One, Freshman Year, “The Science Teacher”: My freshman year was pretty easy, because when you first come into high school, people kind of take care of you. You don’t know what you’re doing, so they generally help you find your way. It’s been a long time since my freshman year of high school, but I can still kind of remember my class schedule. I had my science class at the end of every day, and I hated that class. I had a special kind of hate for that class. I never learned anything from it, and most of the time we sat around playing BS in the back corner or playing guitar by the window. Once we even jumped out the window and ran to the band room and skipped the class and our teacher didn’t even notice – he spent the entire period on the computer selling stuff from his online business. There were never any tests, we just had to come up with 15 random science facts every week and read them to the class, he didn’t even care if we traded papers off with other classmates, as long as we had something. Sounds like a pretty good teacher, right? Wrong.
Within the first week of class, he made it obvious that he did not like certain people. There was no legitimate reason, he just didn’t like them. About halfway through the semester, we figured out he was racist. He made nasty race jokes that weren’t funny, and everyone that he sent to the office was something other than white. He also did not like boys. He wouldn’t send a girl to the office if he could help it. There was an incident in class one day when he was erasing something from the board and he said, “Hey girls, does my butt wiggle when I do this?” And he proceeded to shake his butt at us while ‘erasing’ the board. A 50-something-year-old man. Gross.
So, this class obviously sucked. But we never took notes, or went over any material, or had tests. Needless to say, we were shocked when he said we were going to have a final exam over what we had ‘learned’ throughout the year. We hadn’t learned anything. He hadn’t been teaching. He gave us a week of looking over a powerpoint presentation (which he bothered us through, talking about things that were completely irrelevant) before the ‘exam’. During said exam, there were a lot of things we had never even seen before. And he walked around the room, hovering over people’s shoulders, tapping on question papers, and pointing at answers that may or may not have been right, in the attempt to throw us off and further distract us.
A week later it was the last week of school. We didn’t have any assignments, and we were just killing time in 7th period science class. If I remember correctly (and I have an amazing memory), a boy asked to go to the bathroom. The teacher told him no and to go sit back down. He waited a few minutes, then asked again. Again, the teacher said no. He told him he had to go really bad and he had been holding it since lunch (quite a long time, if he had first lunch like I did). The teacher said no and to go sit back down and not to bother him again. Instead, the boy said, “Fine, I’ll just go to the office and see if they’ll let me go.” So the teacher said, “While you’re at it, you can sit in the principal’s office the rest of the period. And take your friends in the back with you.” And he sent three other boys to the office for no reason. All of them with referral forms. About ten minutes later, another boy asked if he could use the teacher’s phone to call his mom, and the teacher said, “No, but you can use the one in the office,” and he sent him to the office with a referral too.
Eventually, he had weeded out all the boys in our class for some reason or another, and they were all sitting in the office. That was the first time I had seen some of my male classmates cry. Then he started in on the girls. Eventually, as I knew it would, he got to me. I had opened my mouth to yawn, and, unfortunately for me, my desk was right in front of him that day. He stared at me and said, “If you open your mouth one more time, you’re headed straight to the office.” I just stared at him (ironically, mouth still open), then I (stupidly) said, “I was just yawning.” He just smiled at me and shook his head. I had fallen for his trap. He handed me a pink office referral slip and told me told take my stuff and join my classmates in the office. I never thought he would actually ‘write me up’, as was our term for it, especially after I had threatened him with OCR (Office of Civil Rights) earlier in the year, when he tried to for a stupid reason involving my neighboring students and jelly beans on my desk. I took my stuff and when I walked out of the classroom, I realized why he wrote me up; I’m not white. He had never sent a single white girl to the office once all year. I started crying as I walked to the office (I had never been in trouble with the office before, and I didn’t want this to be on my record – I hadn’t done anything). About halfway there, I met one of my friends who promptly freaked out when they saw me so upset with a referral slip in my hand. Friend: “What did you do?!” *ugly crying, sobbing from me* “I’m not white!” Friend: “Yeah, I know, but what did you do?” *me, still sobbing* “I yawned!” My friend walked me to the office, where the secretary was not happy to see yet another kid from the same class walk in, and half of these kids were in tears. We all got sent back to the principal and told him our stories, and he sent an assistant principal to get the remaining students from the class, and we were allowed to go where we wanted, or call our parents for an early pick-up for the 30 minutes left in the day. The principal threw away our referrals and none of them went on our records, our grades were scaled (the final was thrown out and everyone got an A as an ‘apology’), and blessedly, the teacher lost his job.
Also my freshman year, I had an English teacher who absolutely butchered Shakespeare. It was terrible. She had no clue what she was doing. We didn’t even do Shakespeare the entire year, we just did whatever kind of sounded good to her (I also had her my junior year too, both were honors English classes). She tried to accuse me of cheating off someone else’s paper, which was a bit impossible as I hardy knew the person. Plus, most of my paper was written in class, and mine was longer than theirs. It was the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.
Story Two, Sophomore Year, “The Coaches and Geometry”: Sophomore year was a whirlwind, but my personal life is for another time. I was taking geometry that year, which was okay. I was supposed to have this teacher (Mrs. L, we’ll say), but she broke her leg pretty badly before school started and had a lot of other complications with it and ended up not being able to teach that year. So we had a substitute… for the whole year. It was a guy who was really a coach, and he was a young guy, and he didn’t really know much about math. But he was definitely more of a coach. When we got a question wrong, he made us do ‘wall-sits’ for the rest of the period. That’s where you press your back to the wall and squat as if you’re sitting in a chair, but there’s nothing under you to support you; it strengthens your thigh and calf muscles. Thanks, but this isn’t gym class or band. I don’t need the extra workout. It turned out that he didn’t even have a degree yet, and my mother was livid. I was out of that class the day after she found out, and I was in geometry honors, taught by one of the best math teachers in the school district. I slept through a lot of the classes and still got a good grade, but I was behind because of the time I had been in the other class.
We also had a coach who was a pretty good algebra teacher that had a ‘Wall of Shame’ in his room. If you made a bad grade on a test/homework, he stapled it to the cork board of shame for everyone to see and you had to come claim it. I think that’s kind of mean, but hey, if that’s what motivates some people…
Story Three, Junior Year, “Mon Professeur De Français est une Salop”: No, I’m not going to translate that for you, ask Google Translate. My Junior year was my second year of taking French classes, and up until then, I had really enjoyed it. I was pretty good at French, too. My teacher was pretty harsh though, and she was menopausal (she would literally stop class for a hot flash) and she was really pretty, to be nice, just plain mean. I was a very sick kid (always have been), and I was out a lot for doctor’s appointments and being sick, and then I was also out with band. I always had a legitimate excuse, though. But at some point, I guess she had just had enough. There were quite a few of us in the class that were in some school organization, and I guess it just bothered her with so many of us being out all at once and having to keep up with those dates. One day, I went to hand in some homework and give her some work that I had done early because I knew I was going to miss some days (either with band or the doctor, etc). I also asked if I was missing any other work and what the class was going to be doing while I was gone, and was there anything I needed from her. She glanced at my papers and handed them back to me. I looked at her and I said, “But this is my homework and my makeup work. I’m turning it in now so it won’t be late when I get back.” She capped her pen and stuck it behind her ear and said, “I don’t think you understand; it doesn’t matter when you give it to me. You’re out so much that I’m just not going to accept any of your work anymore. I don’t care if it’s late, early, or on time. You can turn it in, but I won’t grade it.” I was pretty shocked, and apparently so was the rest of the class, because everyone else was quiet now. I said, “I’ll just leave this here for you,” and I left my work on her desk. She turned right around and threw it in her trash.
Later that day, I went to the office and called my mom. I told her what had happened and what had been said, and she called my principal. They set up a parent-teacher conference, and my French teacher’s garbage had been gone through the day I called, my work had been retrieved, and the principal and watched her grade it and put it in the system during the conference. (Surprise, surprise, I got a fair grade that time!) He assured us we wouldn’t have any more problems – if only it were that easy.
I vividly remember one class that she made me sit outside the door for the entire period after she yelled at me (several teachers came out of their classrooms to close their doors) because I accidentally knocked my notebook off the desk when I didn’t have enough room to take notes. When class ended, she wouldn’t let me back in until the next class was about to start to get my things, making me late for my next class.
I was still having problems with my work being graded. I could look at my grades online, and it wasn’t good. I’d had a B, and now I was down to a D because she wasn’t grading anything. When my dad found out, all hell broke loose. The principal and my mom and the teacher had yet another meeting, and she swore she was grading everything, but there was not proof in the grading system of it. My mom had watched me do the homework every night, so she knew the woman was lying. And I would try to make up tests before or after school with her, and sometimes she would come to school late (several minutes after our class started, when I was supposed to make the test up before school) just so she didn’t have to give me the test. Once, she just didn’t show up to school one day, she didn’t even call the office to tell them she wasn’t coming, and we were a quarter of the way through our class when a senior when to the office and asked if we were supposed to have a sub or if our teacher was just late. She took my semester exam from me at about half the allotted time and told me I was ‘done’. I had only gotten halfway through it and that was all she allowed me to work on it. I told the principal yet again, and he looked at my grade, and I ended up getting a B. A couple of years later, she got fired and it came out that her boyfriend was busted for drugs and they were searching her classroom for them too. I don’t know if she was in on it, but I wouldn’t be surprised.
That same year (junior year), I had the worst chemistry teacher ever. He never taught. He just liked to talk about sports and gossip with the basketball players. I remember him talking to one basketball player about girlfriends once. The teacher, who was 27 at the time, was trying to date a 13-year-old. A bit sick, if you ask me. The basketball player apparently had gotten his girlfriend pregnant and was cheating on her with four other girls. They all thought this was hilarious. This teacher, too, ended up getting fired at the end of the school year.
Story Four, Senior Year, “Well, in Texas…”: My Senior year was weird. I had nothing better to do, so I found myself taking mostly band classes. I was the band director’s TA for the majority of the day, so that meant that I basically got to do what I wanted (read: sleep). The one class that wasn’t band was English. It was with this new, really weird teacher that no one liked. We were supposed to be reading British Literature Senior year, but all he wanted to do was talk about Texas. Apparently, the Texas school system is really different from the Florida school system. We got so sick of hearing about Texas, we asked him why he didn’t just move back there? He said he wanted to. I heard someone say under their breath once, “If you love Texas so much, why don’t you just marry it?” Every day was a new fact about Texas. Texas, Texas, Texas! Eventually, he got so caught up in his memories of Texas that he just stopped teaching the class. That, and he couldn’t figure out what ‘The Canterbury Tales’ by Geoffrey Chaucer was all about. A friend and I who had actually been reading the book instead of listening to his stories about Texas for half the semester decided to take pity on everyone that couldn’t figure it out either. During class, we had little ‘study groups’. We would read the next passage in Middle English, and the translation was on the next page. So we would explain it before we got there and see if everyone could figure it out on their own. It was a lot of fun, and I got pretty good at reading Middle English. When we studied Beowulf, we studied the Old English writing and used it in our projects for the school’s English fair. My friend and I basically taught our entire class for the semester. After that, we both decided to take the class online the next semester. I passed with a near perfect grade and finished the class over a month before school ended. I never found out how the Texas class did.
So, that was part of my public school experience. And it was an odd one. For the most part, though, it was fun. I always get a kick out of telling these stories to people, because they can’t believe I went to a school where all this stuff happened. We also had bomb threats, gun threats, and all kinds of crazy things.