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Summer began early for 8th grade

By Bill Felber

Nominally, eighth grade was in session this week. As a practical matter, not so much.

If this were graduation week, I could appreciate the conflicts. But eighth grade graduation isn’t until next week, which makes this the week before graduation week. And that leaves me roughly as confused as my kid is when it’s time to do algebra homework.

This week actually began the previous Friday, when the entire eighth grade advanced their education by taking a class trip to Worlds of Fun. Frank studied how to ride the Momba roller coaster. Obviously no homework Friday, or Thursday for that matter. Monday was a pretty normal schedule. But Tuesday brought the history fair, which wiped out half a day. (That was followed by the musical concert, which sort of doesn’t count because it didn’t actually interfere with school, not starting until 7 p.m. The seventh and eighth grade band rocked “Don’t Stop Believin’” and “Sweet Caroline.” Major kudos, gang.)

The musical concert concurrently knocked out one more chance that homework would be brought home for the simple reason that teachers knew the kids wouldn’t have any time to do it. The same held for Wednesday, which was capped by the school picnic in City Park. That day’s classwork was broken up by a one-hour orientation visit at the MHS East Campus.

Even if the school picnic had not been Wednesday night, teachers would not have assigned homework for Thursday because classes did not meet on Thursday. That school morning was dedicated to what is loosely referred to as the “talent show.” The talent show is two and a half hours of lip-synching, sketches and dance occasionally interrupted by a boy or girl who can actually play the piano. Frank did comedy during a couple of talent shows, once unleashing a torrent of guffaws with this oldie but goodie:

Student: Teacher, would you punish me for something I didn’t do?

Teacher: Of course not.

Student: Good, because I didn’t do my homework.

Had ‘em rolling in the aisles, pretty much like it did when I told it in 1962…or when my dad told it in 1920.

The talent show concluded around noon, just in time for lunch followed by the field day. If you haven’t ever been to a field day, the premise is that the entire school divides into teams with an even grade and gender distribution and then the teams compete in three-legged races, balloon tosses and beanbag throws. The bombastic conclusion is a tug-o-war between the faculty and the eighth graders, a contest usually won by whichever side cheats the most.

Friday morning features the eighth-grade breakfast at which the graduates and their parents spend about three hours literally being waited on by the seventh graders. If you’re 14, I suppose that’s a dream scenario, and even if you‘re a seventh grader … hey, you at least got out of class for another half day. The kids were scheduled to have class Friday afternoon, not that they’ll be paying attention.

Here’s the bottom line: Of 12 half-days worth of classroom time, six were spent outside the classroom. Of six possible homework nights (counting back to last Thursday), there was the practical opportunity for actual homework to be assigned on one night.

For the record, next week includes the graduation swim party, the dinner, and the limo ride to the graduation dance, all of that a prelude to… the graduation.

The calendar advises me that summer vacation hasn’t started yet, but I’m not so sure. By the way, have I ever mentioned that when I was in eighth grade I had to walk to school … uphill?









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