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Of all the words to split hairs over…

August 24, 2019, 9:18 AM

I’ve got one more school story for you.  I figure that I’ve told this one so many times to various people that it’s worth putting in Journal entry form and getting “on the record” once and for all.  It also demonstrates just how toxic the situation was in 1990 at Bonnie Grimes Elementary School in Rogers.

Fourth grade, as I’ve indicated before, was a pretty rough year.  This particular incident occurred in late October.  I was in the car rider line after school, waiting for my ride to church for the after-school program that I participated in on Wednesday evenings.  The teacher on car duty was Vicki George, the speech therapist, i.e. the person who worked with the kids that had speech impediments.  Having no speech impediments myself, I never worked with Mrs. George in an official capacity.  My only interactions with her were when she was supervising other kids, i.e. lunch duty, bus duty, car duty, and so on.  My interactions with her were generally negative, because she was a real stickler for behavior – more so than the regular teachers – and as such, on several occasions, I got nailed for stuff that I wouldn’t have gotten nailed for by anybody else.  I generally tried to avoid her, but sometimes our interactions were inevitable.  I don’t remember how I managed to piss her off on this particular occasion in the car line, but somehow, I did, but in any case, it was something really minor (and what I did isn’t relevant to the rest of the discussion).  I remember that she told me, “I’m giving you a yellow slip,” i.e. a report about a disciplinary matter, just before my ride showed up and I left.

I thought nothing of it, and the next day, I got a copy of my yellow slip.  Okay, then.  I didn’t hear anything else about it for a while, so I figured that was the end of it.

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Crossing the line from punishment to just plain mean…

May 29, 2019, 10:26 AM

Sometimes, in reflecting on childhood, you remember an incident and think, “Wow, that was really messed up.”  And then the more that you think about that incident, the more messed up you realize that it was.  Such was the case of a punishment that I received from my mother in November 1990 that, based on the way it all happened, was just wrong.  Before I begin, though, I should note that my parents did a great job overall in raising my sister and me.  But this one was wrong in so many ways.  And my mother likes to bring this one up in conversation, and speaks about it as though she’s quite proud of herself for it, despite how hurtful it actually was.

Back in late 1990, I was in fourth grade.  For context, recall that I did not have the best relationship with my elementary school, as it was clear that they weren’t equipped to handle someone like me (I briefly discuss this in the Mrs. Bradley Journal entry).  Because of that, I had a bit of trouble in school, and things were starting to come to a head with my relationship with my fourth grade teacher.  So getting punished was something that I was accustomed to.

However, this particular punishment really took the cake, mostly because of how it came about, and what happened in the course of the punishment, and the lasting damage that it caused.  In the fall of 1990, Mom had started openly tossing around the idea of cleaning out my room, i.e. taking all of my toys away, as a punishment.  Mom brought it up on several occasions that she wanted to do that, and nine-year-old me was terrified of the prospect, because it felt inevitable that she would eventually do that, and I didn’t know how to prevent it because I was never told what transgressions would trigger such a punishment.

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A time to heal?

March 14, 2019, 10:00 AM

I was checking my Facebook feed on a break at work on Sunday, and imagine my surprise to see one of my old elementary school teachers post this:

Lost a special teacher friend this morning.  Sharon Bradley made you smile, and was the best story teller!  She was also my neighbor for a few years.  Sharon was good to my children and the students she taught.  Prayers for her family and extended school family who loved her.

Apparently, my old fifth grade teacher, Sharon Bradley, died on the morning of March 10, at the age of 76.  As of this writing, I do not know the cause of her death.

You may recall that I wrote a very long Journal entry last June about my fifth grade experience, after Mrs. Bradley came up in the “people you may know” list on Facebook around that time.  Fifth grade was, without question, my worst year in school, from kindergarten through college.  I suffered so much emotional abuse under her over the course of those nine months, enabled by the school administration and the guidance counselor.  When presented with the opportunity to reconnect through Facebook and potentially make peace, I declined, choosing to keep her out of my life.

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Finding my old fifth grade teacher on Facebook…

June 4, 2018, 2:30 PM

Recently, a very familiar name came up in my friend suggestions: “Sharon Payne Bradley”.  In other words, this person:

Sharon Bradley in August 1991, posing with me on the first day of school

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So there I am, fast asleep, staring down a fire alarm…

November 11, 2013, 12:09 AM

I graduated from high school in 1999.  That means that I have been out of high school for fourteen years.  The question I have is, why am I still having fire drill dreams?  I had one of these on Saturday night, and I don’t get it.

In this dream, I was going to Stuarts Draft High School, which is where I actually went to high school.  Back then, the school had a Simplex system, but the school has since been renovated.  It now has a Notifier system with System Sensor horn/strobes.  The take-home point on this, however, is that the school now contains a horn/strobe in every classroom.  And I am acutely aware of this.  When I was in school, I only shared a classroom with a fire alarm horn once.  That was in kindergarten at Southside Elementary School in Rogers, Arkansas, but the kindergarten room was the size of a basketball court with a really high ceiling.  At Grimes Elementary in Rogers, and Stuarts Draft Middle School and Stuarts Draft High School in Virginia, I never shared a classroom with a fire alarm horn except for in shop classes (where I never had a fire drill) and Phys. Ed, where we did have the occasional fire drill.  However, in middle school, two Edwards horns in a big gym weren’t very loud, but four Simplex 4040 horns in the gym in high school were extremely loud.  But outside from those situations, there were no horns in the rooms where I had class (the horns were out in the hallway).

In this dream, I was sitting in a modern-looking classroom on the first day of school at Stuarts Draft High School.  And across the room from me was this:

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With all of this exercise effort lately…

April 28, 2011, 11:20 PM

With all of this exercise effort lately on my part, I went digging around on the Internet to find information on the old presidential fitness test that we used to do in Phys. Ed class in school.  Remember that one?  It’s that test you did where you had to do pull-ups, sit-ups, and a few other things.  And you know what?  I realized, some 14 years after the last time I did one (Virginia does not require Phys. Ed past the 10th grade), exactly how screwed up the implementation of this test was when I was in middle and high school.

First of all, elementary school is always a bit of an outlier for me when it comes to school experiences.  I went to elementary school in Arkansas, and then we moved to Virginia in 1992.  And considering that I have not been back since, August 31, 1992 (the day we arrived in Virginia) is a bit of a “wall” in my life’s timeline, in that every event either happened before then or after then.  Plus with no Email or Facebook back then, all my people communications with the Arkansas folks ended when we moved as well (though I now have contact with many of them on Facebook).  My move to the DC area in 2007 wasn’t like that, because Washington DC was part of my life before then, and Stuarts Draft has remained part of my life since.  So thus it’s harder to compare elementary school to the rest because it is behind that “wall”.

But in elementary school, when most of us first learned of the physical fitness test, I believe the implementation was done correctly, based on what I read on the site for “The President’s Challenge“, as it’s called.  Basically, you had two award levels: “National” and “Presidential”.  That was something to work towards, but if you missed those benchmarks, it was okay as long as you put your best effort into it.  If you didn’t even try, then you were in trouble, but as long as you made a good-faith effort and tried, then it was good.  I still remember doing a mile in 14 minutes and 15 seconds as a first grader (why I still remember that 14:15 mile over 20 years later is beyond me).  Looking at the published benchmarks, I was only about two minutes off from the time indicated for the “National” award for six-year-olds today.  The numbers may have been and likely were different back then, but for this discussion, I’m going to use the modern numbers because that’s what I have easy access to.  If you have historic numbers circa 1988 or so, send ’em on over.

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So with school starting up again…

August 14, 2010, 9:18 PM

School in Augusta County starts up again this Tuesday, August 17. I think that’s a bit early, but there you go, I suppose. I thought it was neat when one year, they started on a Wednesday. That seems to make a quick first week that still has time to cover all the bases. Day one, you welcome everyone and visit all your classes to see what the teachers’ expectations will be and to get your textbooks. Then day two, you have the big assemblies so that the administrators can explain their own expectations. Then on day three, you have a fire drill (Virginia law mandates a fire drill once per week during the first month of school).

Meanwhile, I decided to take a look at a few school-related things just for the fun of it. One of the things I looked at was supply lists. I went to the Rogers Public Schools Web site, because I’ve always found some of their supply lists amusing. Specifically, I found the supply list for Grimes Elementary, which is where I went to school. And we find out that the tradition continues. For more than twenty years, Grimes has been emphatic: NO TRAPPER KEEPERS. Does anyone even use Trapper Keepers anymore? Now there’s another device that Grimes hates: wheeled backpacks. I would consider wheeled backpacks to be a good thing, as it brings heavy loads to the ground and on wheels, where they probably should be. Maybe Grimes has a deal with a local chiropractor, where they load the kids down with heavy stuff, make them carry them on their backs, and then get a kickback for every Grimes student’s back that the chiropractor cracks. Who knows.

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Look what I found!

May 7, 2007, 12:06 PM

I’m going through and cleaning stuff out in preparation for the big move to DC, and I found this:

Mrs. Maidt's fourth grade class, 1990-1991

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“Peace”

November 25, 2006, 9:39 PM

Paz, paix, peace, an, siochain, friede, shalom, salaam,amani, santeepop, heiwa, hoa bihn

That’s “peace” in twelve different languages: Spanish, French, English, Korean, Gaelic, German, Hebrew, Arabic, Swahili, Thai, Japanese, and Vietnamese. In this time in our history, with a war going on in Iraq, I’m reminded of the song whose lyrics are reproduced above in all those different languages.

I first learned the song in 1991, when I sang a duet with Laine Virtue in the fourth grade for the school chorus. Back then, there was another war going on in Iraq: Operation Desert Storm. Laine and I sang that song, whose only words were the various translations of “peace” as quoted above. Then the next fall, the whole chorus sang a song, “Let Peace Begin With Me”, which was a really neat song (and I can’t find the lyrics for it online).

And with Christmas exactly one month away, I’m holding out hope that we can come up with a peaceful end to the current conflict, and bring our troops home alive very soon. I think this photo says it all…

A woman holds up a US flag, where the fifty stars are arranged to form a peace sign

Today is Katherine Watts’s birthday

January 2, 2004, 10:32 AM

Just one of those random things you remember about people… today is the 23rd birthday of Katherine Watts, a friend and classmate from elementary school in Rogers, Arkansas. I haven’t seen her since we moved to Virginia back in 1992, and so in June it will be 12 years since I saw her. We still have an apple-shaped ornament that she did for me in preschool that we still put on the tree every year. Still, happy birthday to Katherine Watts.

Otherwise, today is my last day in the Staunton Wal-Mart as an associate. Monday all of us Waynesboro associates will be starting down there for the big January 21 grand opening. I’m excited. And I get this weekend off. So I’m going to Washington DC on Saturday (as in tomorrow) to ride Metro and take photos of stuff.

Categories: Elementary school, Walmart