Actually, I didn’t learn a single thing in junior high because…
I didn’t go to junior high.
We moved the year before I would have gone and the new school had kindergarten through eighth grade under one roof. I was bummed about missing out on this rite of passage.
During the years I would have been in junior high, though, I did learn a few things, to wit:
- Landscape designers can and do err.
See those leaves framing the photo above? When I was attending that school, those trees were gingko trees, which had been planted around the entire block. For three seasons of the year, these trees seemed innocuous enough — lovely components of the overall landscape design, by all appearances.
Then in the fall, things got funky. While the leaves were turning a warm, golden color, the fruit of the female ginkgo trees were releasing their odor. Tree experts might tout that “the few weeks of unpleasant aromas are worth it for the beauty the trees add the rest of the year”, but I beg to differ.
You simply can’t justify planting gingkos near an elementary school when there exists a plethora of trees that don’t drop Stink Fruit! I could at this point describe the stench the small cherry-sized fruit released when squished underfoot by students pouring out of the school at 3:30, but it’d be pretty gross. And to make matters worse, boys sometimes thought to throw the nasty berries at each other, rendering the sidewalks a war zone, and me a scurrying refugee. So, NO GINGKO TREES NEAR SCHOOLS. PLEASE.
Perhaps the worst fashion statement ever. They hit “homely” right out of the park. Only saving grace? Everyone was in the same boat.
- By the time you get to seventh grade, there just aren’t many boys who can sing soprano any more.
The last holdout was this guy who was really smart, was a pitcher on city leagues for years, and who all the girls thought was cute. (In addition, he had very good penmanship — and you regular readers know how I respect excellence in the handwriting department). He was that kid who sort of defines “cool” in your peer group. And I’m thinking the other boys might have relished this irony.
- Having a teacher for a parent doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll move to the head of the class.
I would have figured a kid could just know lots of stuff by osmosis if he or she lived with a real live teacher. But the classmate whose mom taught at a nearby school was just a middle-of-the-road, ordinary student. Color me surprised.
- If you challenge the boys in your class to broad jump contests on the playground and proceed to jump further than all of them, you will get noticed, but not in the way you wanted.
- If you blew it with just right amount of force, you could get your straw wrapper to stick to the air intake vents on the lunchroom ceiling.
You just didn’t want to get caught in the act.
- If you miss nearly two weeks during the first month of your eighth grade year, you might not totally figure out what’s going on in algebra the rest of the year.
Sigh. I really needed a tutor.
- The prickly eighth grade teacher, who seemingly enjoyed intimidating students, was ill-advised to have taken issue with my reasons for being gone for nearly two weeks at the beginning of the year.
She apparently deemed travel to another region of the U.S. to attend an annual religious gathering with the family a poor excuse for my absence and hassled me about it. I mentioned this at dinner, and the very next day, my dad was at the school going head to head with her in the small unoccupied instruction room next to our classroom. (That he took off work to come to school during the day was a really big deal to me.) I couldn’t hear the exact words spoken during their very animated discussion, but he had my back. The woman treated me right the remainder of the school year.
Praise the Lord and pass the 3-D grapher.