We recently had an extended homeroom (two hours with fifteen juniors I usually only see twenty minutes a day) while we coded in bubbles on ACT test forms for testing later this month. (Not as easy as you might think: between college locales to send scores to and a career interest survey plus all the general I.D. and contact info, there is a lot of #2 pencil action to work through in those ten pages).
One of the young women in the class brought in a bottle of Gatorade – not an uncommon occurrence. She was the first student there, and we were chatting as I walked to the hallway to monitor hall activity when I heard her make a choking sound, followed quickly by an emphatic, “Ewww! Grrrrrrosssss”!
“You okay”? I inquired, moderately concerned and turning around.
“Aggh! It’s this Gatorade! Mr. Lucker, don’t ever buy cucumber Gatorade”!
“Cucumber. Cucumber. Gatorade”? I thought she was joking or had misread the label
“Yeah! I thought it is a cool color, I thought it would taste good – it DOESN’T”! She held up in disgust for me to see.
As a few other students filtered in, they saw the girl sitting at her desk, still muttering ‘yuck’ and wiping her lips vigorously with a napkin.
“What’s with you”? Asked one.
“This Gatorade is nasty. Its cucumber”!
“Let me try it”!
This is not an uncommon thing at school; students frequently share beverages, but being aware of the germ potential, their lips never touch the bottle – they simply raise the bottle high and pour. Their accuracy in hitting open mouths and nothing else is remarkable. If only their concentration skills extended to academics.
The first boy to take a gulp shrugged and said, “It tastes stupid”. He offered it to another young man, who looked at the flavor and declined, asking (logically, I thought) “Who wants to drink cucumbers”? The girls filtering in and offered a taste all declined, most scrunching up their noses and/or shaking their heads. Finally the bottle was passed to one of our football players who asked for it with a brusque, “Let me try that”!
Matt* poured a big swig down from a range of about six inches above his mouth, then went about smacking his lips repeatedly – reminiscent of Bugs Bunny rapidly chewing a carrot before asking “What’s up, Doc”? He swallowed, then thought for minute.
“Tastes like salad” was his matter-of-fact reply, adding hopefully, “Can I finish it”?
“Salad? Ewww! That’s disgusting”! Exclaimed a just arriving young woman to multiple murmurs of agreement.
I just shook my head and turned my focus to the crowded hallway.
The morning continued uneventfully bubbling in wide-ranging info on our ACT forms until we reached the section that asked for college locales to have test scores sent to. This required going to the separate instruction booklet they had been given and navigating a lengthy, small-font list of college and university codes. It was a bit confusing. I assisted those that needed it and returned to the front of the room for the next stage of our step-by-step, by-the-book process.
“Okay, now take a look at box ‘R’ on your forms”. I started to run through the instructions when one of the kids stated “Mr. Lucker, how you know all these forms and stuff”?
“It helps that I have a junior in my own home, so I’m getting proficient in all this ACT and college stuff. Now, in box ‘R’….”
“Three of them. Now the first thing in box ‘R’…” I was holding my copy of the form up to show them
“You got three kids”? Said one with surprise.
“Yes. Now, in box ‘R’…”
“You got a wife”?
“I do. Now…”
“I knew that he had a wife ‘cause I had his class last year. But I didn’t know you had three kids, Mr. Lucker”! Responded one girl, who indeed, was a student of mine last year.
Deep breath. “Okay. I have a wife, three kids, two boys and a girl, one grandson, two dogs – one big, one small…the goldfish died. I’m five-five, wear a size nine shoe and my blood type is O-positive. Can we finish this thing”? I was still holding the form in the air. There was a moment of silence as the class, staring at me, digested my statistics.
“Your fish died”? asked one girl with noticeable sadness in her voice.
Their heads bobbed back down toward their desks and we finished box ‘R’ (and the rest of the form) without difficulty or detour.
Just another start to the day in room 261.