Monthly Archives: May 2014

Of Scissors and Swords, Seniors and Insects

Strange things occur in Moses Lake from time to time–but more particularly as the school year winds down. 

It started on Sunday with a dear 89-year-old friend of the family who fought off a samurai-sword-wielding robber with a pair of scissors.The strangeness then proceeded through early morning pool parties in the high school commons, insect infestations, and six fire drills in one day.

If you haven’t seen a news story about the scissor-wielding Mrs. Koba yet, you can read it here. It is possibly the funniest thing I have ever read… well… besides maybe the discipline referral that popped up in my inbox the other day. That was for one of my students who brought a weapon to school. I would tell you the fascinating details, but in doing so, I would probably violate some kind of privacy law. Suffice it to say that when I got the email, I Googled the day’s date to make sure it wasn’t some kind of national AdministratorsPlay-A-Prank-on-Staff-Members day. I’m probably within appropriate bounds to tell you that if you scoured your house for the most innocuous object you can find–that one object you would least likely use as a weapon–that’s what he brought to school and was suspended five days for. Sophomore boys can get really creative during passing time. This is one of those students who currently has 18% and 54 absences in my class, and  yet still occasionally shows up. Every time he comes through the door, I have an urge to beg one question of him:  Why?? Why are you still here?  I love the kid to death, honestly. But really: Why?

Then, it was bring-a-pet-to-school-day. Not an official bring-a-pet-to-school-day, mind you. Just one of those strange student impulses that strike the masses all at the same time. I saw a kitten, a puppy, and a bird. One of the other teachers in our department reported a rat. 

This morning, before sunup, a truckload of sand  was delivered to the school’s entryway–along with a kiddie pool (full of water), a volleyball net, beach chairs, and a BBQ grill. The seniors had a beach party before the first bell ever rang. You  have to admit: that’s a pretty great senior prank: no property damaged, nobody hurt… no dairy cows traumatized by exposure to public schooling.  The thing about dairy cows is that they are difficult to successfully sneak past security cameras, incognito. (Yes, an enterprising senior tried that one year.) 

Thousands of crickets, on the other hand: not so difficult to smuggle. Apparently you can sneak a significant number of live insects into the school and release them simultaneously in every hallway without arousing suspicion on the security feed. I predict there will be some close scrutiny of today’s footage. Mostly because someone pulled the fire alarm six times. Even the students were groaning and begging to ignore it by the fourth go round.

Seniors. You gotta love ’em. Or at least put up with them for two more days. Sophomores, on the other hand, I get to love for 10 and a half more days. 

Not that anyone is counting…


A League of Our Own

It’s possible that I’ve become fully initiated into the league of Sophomores. I say this for three reasons: I’ve begun to use homophones incorrectly, I no longer have any personal boundaries, and I automatically begin all of my writing tasks by mentally trying to compose a thesis statement, followed by three body paragraphs, and a conclusion. (It’s the HSPE; there’s no escape.)

I’m not totally won over by homophone blindness, but I did use there and their interchangeably for just a fraction of  a second the other day. I still cringe at the variants “thair” and “theyer”, but give me another couple years and I’ll be good with those, too.

I’m not quite as comfortable with my shattered personal boundaries, but I’m beginning to realize that my comfort level really doesn’t affect theirs. They tackle me in group hugs in the hall. They ask to borrow my ChapStick and my fork. They offer me bites of their cookies. Generally, I decline and I always draw the line at ChapStick. But they still ask. Speaking of asking, I’ve been getting a lot of borderline personal questions from students lately that have nothing to do with English. Some samplings, just from today:

“Mrs. Lybbert, what do you think is the scariest way to die?”

“Yo. Mz. Lybbert. What’s the meanest thing you ever done?”

“Where’d you go to college?”

“Why did you decide to become a teacher?”

“How old are all your kids?”

“Mrs. Lybbert. You have to answer me seriously: Do you think that girls should, you know, act like girls?”

“What do you do at parties?”

“Mrs. Lybbert!! Mrs. Lybbert!! Ohmygoodness–so what is your favorite animal?”

Lest you think my interrogators might be satisfied with simple or vague responses, let me just tell you that the questions are always followed by a long list of qualifiers–and sometimes, by demands for photographic evidence, as in the case of information about my children. As for qualifiers, the mode of death had to be 1) unexpected, 2) unnatural, and 3) exceedingly unlikely. The mean thing could not have occurred accidentally or when I was a small child. The favorite-animal girl refused to take “small children” as an answer and exacted a promise from me to come with an answer on Monday.

Would you believe I ran the animal dilemma past Google? (Would you believe there’s actually a wiki how-to-figure-out-your-favorite-animal, and that it is fully illustrated by pictures of deeply thoughtful people making lists? And no, it wasn’t helpful.)

Long story short: I don’t have a favorite animal. I can sum up my most visceral feelings about animals this way: White meat tastes better than dark.

I have a feeling that isn’t going to satisfy her.

To top it all off, I have the feeling that I’m doing exactly what we tell our students NOT to do when faced with a difficult homework assignment: I’m attempting to replace deep thought  with an internet search. I’m procrastinating. I’m hoping the person doing the assigning will just forget by Monday.

It’s classic Sophomore homework strategy–right up there with looking in the fridge.

Said over a bowl of cereal.

I’ve become one of them.