8:20 AM. OK, let’s take our seats. / May I run to my locker? / No, ma’am, it’s time for the announcements. / But I don’t have my book. / Then you best get in the habit of bringing it, especially since there are only three weeks left in the semester. (Goodhearted laughter from the class; moans from the young lady.)

From the public address system: Please stand for the pledge to the flag. “I pledge allegiance to the flag … with liberty and justice for all.” Thank you. The French Club will meet today after school in Mrs. Boudet’s room. Pictures for rising senior class officers will be made Friday in front of the trophy case. Officers, please wear a goofy hat. Pictures for next year’s yearbook staff will be made Friday during first period. Decide in advance which picture packet plan you will purchase.

Still from the PA system: Now a word from the Math Team cheerleaders. “We are the Math Team, rah, rah, rah. / We love calculus, ha, ha, ha. / Logarithms, logarithms, yo, yo, yo. / We are the Math Team, go Math, go!”

Whispers back in the classroom: “THAT was stupid.” / “Yeah, the next time they do that in assembly, I ain’t going!”

From the PA system: Now Mrs. Horton has an announcement. “Students, the faculty wants to tell you how special you are. Positive High School has collected over 500 cans of food for the needy. We thank the Key Club for spearheading this. They are the greatest. Now a word from our Key Club officers. First voice: “I can.” Second voice: “You can.” Third voice: “We all can bring cans.” All voices: “Yes, we can!”

Whispers in the classroom: “Now that was REAL stupid.” / “Yeah, I’ve got ‘ole Lady Horton for government. That woman’s CRAZY!”

From the PA system: Here’s our principal, Mr. Wordsmith. “Students, as we close out the year at Positive High, I want to tell you what a grand bunch you are. I want to congratulate Coach Smiley and the Kittens for their baseball victory last Friday.

“But on to something negative here at Positive High. Many of you know that three young men broke into the library Saturday night and turned over all the book shelves. I hasten to remind you they were all freshmen. Freshmen need a little time to learn the rules, and I know all of you believe in forgiveness. Teachers who have these young men in your classes, please send their work to the In-School Suspension Teacher. I know you’ll be willing to give them all the time they need to complete their work.

“Vandalism is serious and sad, and any students who need to talk about it may come to the library conference room during first period to discuss how you feel. Everyone have a good day.”

8:45 AM. Back in the classroom: “OK, Tennyson’s Ulysses! I believe that last Friday we … / Mr. Hines, I hate to interrupt but are you going to let us go to the library to talk about the vandalism? / Look, Tennyson’s not the easiest author in the book. The test on Tennyson is Thursday. / Yes sir, I know, but Mr. Wordsmith said … / Mr. Wordsmith would understand why I’m asking you to do your therapy session some other time. Did you know any of the freshmen who trashed the library? / No sir, but I’d still like to talk to someone. / Would it help if you asked your questions here? Maybe I or someone in the class could answer them. / I don’t have specific questions, but Mr. Wordsmith indicated that …”

(Rinnnnnnnnnng!) Well, we’ll get to Tennyson tomorrow. Look back over Ulysses tonight. You’re dismissed.

9:25 AM (Teacher’s Journal): Dear Lord Tennyson, You’ve so much wisdom to give us. Forgive us for displacing learning for therapy when your writings are therapeutic enough. Don’t blame the young man who stole your time. He was only accepting what the school offered him.

Dear parents, are you aware of the triumph of the therapeutic or do you favor the enabling culture our schools are becoming?

Dear students, if I’m going to help you, you must ironically resist many distractions the school throws at you. Please don’t believe that 14-year-old vandals are necessarily sick. They probably have flawed character and derelict parents.

Dear reader, do you see why colleges are now filled with students who clamor for “safe space” and who weep upon hearing things with which they disagree? It didn’t start at college. And not totally at high school. Guess where else.

Roger Hines is a retired English teacher and state legislator in Kennesaw.

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