I'm Lucky

On a day when yet another school has reported a shooting (this is in my area, though not in my district), it's ironic that--only a few hours before--I'd been thinking about how good I have it at Randomville High School.

Last night the Drama Society and the Writers Guild sponsored a Coffeehouse Night for our students. The turn-out was small, but the students who participated were welcomed, encouraged, and made to feel like celebrities. I have a student in my theater class who literally CRIES every time she has to speak in front of the class. CRIES. Like, giant sobbing wails. But last night she not only performed her part with the greatest of ease, she VOLUNTEERED to recite one of her own poems. AND THEN SHE SANG A SONG. I was floored, actually, but she hugged me when she left and I told her how proud I was of her. And it's one thing to hear it from your teacher, but all night my other theater students had told her how great she'd done, and when she sang that song, they gave her a standing ovation and ran to meet her as she walked off the stage, mobbing her with hugs and back-pats and "That was AWESOME!"

Yesterday I had a run-in with a student. We talked in the hall, I made some stern remarks, he nursed the chip on his shoulder, I called the office ... the standard procedure. Today he came in my room and apologized to me. I don't know if he did it on his own accord, and I frankly don't care. I appreciate the fact that he's taking responsibility for his actions, and I told him so. "That's really big of you," I said. "And I don't mean that sarcastically."

It's Homecoming Week at RHS, and (as usual) things have been crazy. No one wants to do any work, including the teachers, and we all sit around in the mornings, contemplating what the afternoon will offer us in the way of Homecoming activities.

Today we were all in the gym--all 1200 or so of us. The administration had asked that teachers sit in their class sections (freshmen, sophomore, etc.) and make sure that nobody went too wild.

Now I, personally, hate sitting in my section. It doesn't matter what class, though I've been a sophomore homeroom teacher for three years now; they are all equally scary. Plus, I am not a crowd person. Crowds make me nervous, and crowds of teenagers doubly so, and crowds of adrenaline-pumped teenagers on the second tier of bleachers give me the high blood pressure headache.

On the whole, though, they were great. Sure, they were excited (and LOUD), but they still managed to be well-behaved. Well, the sophomores did. The juniors, on the first tier of bleachers below us, had smuggled in Silly String, and they all whipped around and sprayed us at the same time. I pointed at one culprit and made the "gimme" sign (I'm sure this was emphasized by the Silly String wrapped in my eyelashes), and she turned it over meekly, without saying a word.

"Wow," I thought. "I bet other schools have kids who wouldn't do that." Later I thought, "Wow. I bet other schools have kids that would spray us with bullets or, at the very least, the best Jack Daniels can offer."

Later I was standing in the bleachers minding my own business vigilantly watching the students, when I saw a kid spit his gum out on the floor. He looked at his friend and shrugged. Then he looked at ME, and the look of complete disgust I gave him must have told him he'd done something wrong. I pointed at him, then pointed at the gum, then pointed back at him, and he picked it right up.

"Wow," I thought. "I didn't even talk that time! My powers must be growing stronger! We really have good kids here!"

At the end of the day, the assistant principal led the entire school in a round of cheers.

"It's time to get loud, it's time to represent, Class of '11 what time is it?" at which all the freshmen would scream, their tiny, tinny voices hitting pitches inaudible to human ears.

"It's time to get loud, it's time to represent, Class of 2010 (twenty-ten) what time is it?" and the sophomores would bounce in that way that's supposed to look like dancing and yell that "Oh ten" (I KNOW) was all up in herre.

"It's time to get loud, it's time to represent, Class of '09 what time is it?" and the juniors, who always--no matter what class it is--are a little too convinced of their own superiority, would scream in a dignified manner and give the seniors the stinkeye.

"It's time to get loud, it's time to represent, Class of '08 what time is it?" and the seniors, knowing this is their last Homecoming, lost their minds, stomped the bleachers, tried to dirty dance one of the teachers (not me), and in general provided my teacher-self with a bunch of disdain, but my private-self was kind of amused.

Finally, right before dismissal, the AP growled out the closer: "It's time get loud, it's time to represent, Randomville High what time is it?" and the freshmen screams mingled with the sophomore chants joined with the junior cheers tangled with the senior roar, as each class forgot the competition, forgot all the times they've hated living in a small town, forgot grades, teachers, cliques, and books, and proudly declared their unity and their pride.

And that's why--for today, at least--I'm lucky.

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