“A healthy social life is found only, when in the mirror of each soul the whole community finds its reflection, and when in the whole community the virtue of each one is living.”
- Rudolf Steiner
Friday morning, I received a call to sub Spanish in two schools. I’d begin in my children’s school and end in the middle school that had given me so much trouble in Math a couple of days before*. Great.
I’d never had the middle school students at the first school, and they were well behaved. In fact, they were so good that I could do other things while they did the dialogue assignment. When I was done, I left in the rain to head to the other school. There, I only had one seventh-grade class (the nicer one than the other day), and then there would be a pep rally.
The seventh-grade class was entertaining, if not the brightest bunch. Some students kept asking what words in their textbook meant. “There’s a glossary in the back of the book, you know,” I replied. They didn’t know.
Several of the students had face paint and wore light blue t-shirts. I asked two boys which sports they played. One replied, “I’m a cheerleader for the girls’ team.” Then he pointed to his friend and said, “He’s the cheerleader for the boys’ team.” His friend laughed and replied, “No, I’m the cheerleader for the girls’ team. He’s the cheerleader for the boys’ team.” In case you haven’t had the pleasure of spending time with eighth-grade boys, they spend a lot of time accusing/joking with one another of being gay and racist. Adorable.
Then it was time for the pep rally. Here’s where I admit that I didn’t rush to join everyone in the auditorium. My seventh-graders left to meet up in their homerooms, but my group never showed up. Attending a rally for students I barely knew, although an easy way to spend the next hour-and-a-half, was going to be boring and depressing.
When I slipped into the auditorium, it seems that all I’d missed was someone singing “The Star Spangled Banner”. All of the seats were taken, so I stood in the back with the other teachers and late parents. All three teams (boys’ basketball, boys’ hockey, and girls’ hockey) were along the back by the doors, waiting to be called one at a time, while the coach told us something wonderful about each individual.
I had a moment of déjà vu because the “coach” used to work at my old school and ran the rallies there. In fact, he held one when my daughter was two-years-old. I brought her because I’d never attended one before, and thought it would be fun. As soon as the music blared, she held her ears and began to cry, so I hurried out of the auditorium. For the next two years, she told me “Rawees are vewy woud.”
At this rally, many students did a shtick when their name was called. One threw candy at the audience, which made the kids NUTS. After the second student did that, the coach wouldn’t allow any more sweets to be tossed before an audience member died. Another student actually threw cash, which caused a similar riot.
Remember all of those twins? Two sets of twins and one from a third set were on various teams. Well, one girl pretended she was her sister and dissed the coach/gym teacher, instead of meeting him on the podium. But then the “correct” twin ran up and hugged the coach.
Another student did a split when she got to the stage. One boy, who’s number 34 (that’s a big number – it was Michael Jordan’s on The Bulls). He stripped off jersey after jersey with that number on it until he got to his shirt. How he managed to wear about eight or nine jerseys and not appear bulky, I have no idea.
With each student’s march down the aisle, a song of his/her choosing was played. A large male made his way down while his own written and performed song was played. I went to clap when I remembered that he’d given so much trouble in that first Math class, and then put my hands at my sides. I know – petty.
The coach gave away two MP3 players. Students were supposed to find out if they won by checking for an American flag sticker that was hidden under two seats. Nobody could find them. Luckily, the students had raffle tickets for other prizes, so the coach used those instead.
As a sub, this was the fourth time I attended an event in this auditorium. The first was when the illustrator, E.B. Lewis spoke to the fourth and fifth-graders. The second was an unsuccessful anti-bullying show. I say “unsuccessful” because on the way out of the auditorium, middle school boys shoved one another and someone got tripped. The third was the music concert I wrote about in December.**. And the fourth, was this rally.
I don’t know these students. Sure, some I know by name at this point, and I recognize everyone in the middle school and quite a few in the elementary school. I sub at the school more often than other schools. But this isn’t my school. As much as I’d like to be, I’m not a teacher there. So, watching these performances and rallies, which are designed to create a community, remind me that I’m not a part of that community.