Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Memory Day: A Day in the Eighth Grade

The 1992-93 school year was my Eighth Grade year at Francis Hammond Junior High School. Because it was a junior high school and not a middle school, the top grade was 9, and eighth graders had no particular positive or negative status. This was part of the Alexandria City Public School System's experiment to inappropriately teach kids that "freshman" are at the top of the food chain. (The failed experiment was cancelled after I entered the tenth grade -- subsequent ninth graders were sent to a special ninth-grade-only school to teach them that they were both highly undesirable and incapable of playing well with others).

Every yearbook staff tried to take a snapshot of the era by polling students about their favourites, but like all yearbook polls, the sample size consisted of the staff's close friends and no one else. I was obviously not consulted for this list -- other than the fact that I often ate pizza, drank Coke, and lip-synched "Down with O.P.P. (Yeah You Know Me)" at the lunch table every day, I didn't give a rat's ass about anything listed.

My typical school day was eight periods long, including an early bird period that started around 7 AM:

  • 0: Early Bird Gym with Mr. Korns, who had a horse-shaped head, and insisted on getting us nice and sweaty to prepare for the next eight hours of indoor class time.
  • 1: Concert Band with Mr. Randall, where I was the star player and the teacher's pet.
  • 2: Algebra I with Mrs. Beasley and the other GIFTED kids who got to take a NAMED math.
  • 3: Mrs. Young's infamous English class, where I read the entire reader in a month instead of paying attention and was punished with the most verbose part of Twelve Angry Men.
  • 4: I spent every lunch period alone, reading in the back of the band room. All my friends had 5th period lunch.
  • 5: French I with Mrs. Gibbs, where I learned how to say movez-vous, s'il vous plait, which greatly prepared me for my trip to France this year.
  • 6: Physical Science with Mr. Maygarden, which was filled with the normal-level students who copied my assignments all year long.
  • 7: Art with Mrs. Klein, which was really just an extended flirting session while we put glitter on stuff.
  • In all these classes, I was more familiarly known by my Indian name, "Curve Breaker". I was always required to attend the yearly award ceremonies to receive yet another mimeographed Outstanding Achievement certificate for my collection, which I ultimately laminated into an Outstanding Achievement backpack until it was set on fire by jealous Underachieving bullies, giving me third degree burns.

    Outside of academics, I was also an enthusiastic member in extracurriculars, since eighth grade was the year where you had to start building your college resume before brilliantly spinning out of control on sex and drugs in the eleventh grade and making it all for naught. Besides the band, I played bit roles in the Art Club, where we stayed after school to prefix "F" on all the Art-embossed goods in the storeroom, the Literary Club, where we reviewed really crappy student poetry and chose selections for the literary magazine based on grade-point average and notoriety instead of skill, and Crew, where I worked really hard at being 80 pounds. I was also inducted into the National Junior Honor Society, where the pretentiousness of the students was only outshone by the overdramatic induction ceremony involving real candles and metaphors for extinguishing knowledge.

    Real-time Beethoven
    Doctors find worm in woman's brain
    Bus driver brakes for students

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