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Sixth grade started like any other year of public school, except for the fact that my teacher had received word that I was a, “gifted student”, and therefore, expected more of me than most of the other students in my grade. Public school was a breeze, and getting good grades never required any sort of work whatsoever, so I was anticipating 6th grade to be a breeze. From day 1, it was a nightmare.My first day in 6th grade, the teacher decided to assign seating arrangements based on geographical locations. I had always experienced great difficulty with maps, and geospacial information in general, which is why I use electronic versions instead of their paper equivalents.
Before I continue, I should note that while the class teacher expected a lot from me, we are friends today.
Day 1, we had to locate our seating assignments on a world map. The location I had to find was Cyprus Nicosia. Although by that point in my life, I was already well travelled and well versed in the geography of the world, I had never, ever, located Cyprus on a world map before.
It quickly became apparent that I was the only one with a geospacial relationship perception problem. I was the absolute last student to locate the location on the map; my seating assignment became increasingly more and more obvious, and blatantly so when it became the last unoccupied desk in the classroom.
After I was able to locate Cyprus on the world map, everyone took their seats and we were given the news and instructions as to the entire course of the school year, in grave detail. The worst news of all? There was to be no more recess period; instead, we would remain inside and outdoor recess period would be replaced with study hall. And study hall was NOT for doing ones homework; it was for reading and studying only, no writing of any kind was allowed.
Midway through the school year, we had our high school science fair. There was the typical displays of physics, very early electronics from RadioShack, and other projects which utilized air pressure, or simple tabletop hydraulics.
Again, since my father was an atomic engineer, and the teacher expected so much of me, I was not able to do my project on anything that was considered mainstream or cliché. So my science project was on nuclear power. I was given a B+ for my project; I would have gotten an A+ if my project actually functioned, like everyone else. Even the project that demonstrated the differences between materials being opaque, translucent, or transparent scored higher than mine. Makes no sense to me, but it was so long ago that I guess it doesn’t really matter.
6th grade progressed, slower than I would have liked. Over the course of the school year, some very memorable events took place which helped to break up the monotony of the public school experience. I’ll just list them briefly, as they do not require or deserve too much explanation. In other words, one needed to be there to fully understand why these events were so memorable.
I sat next to the proverbial class clown, who would typically do the minimum amount of work necessary so just pass the grade. Eric (that is his real name) would sit at his desk and goof off and do whatever he could to distract the class and place the focus of attention upon himself by whatever means necessary.
On one occasion, we came back to school one Monday morning to find the classroom had been completely rearranged, although our seating assignments remained the same. I have always been very perceptive of my surroundings; more so as an adult, but in my younger years, I was way ahead of everyone else in that regard. On that fateful Monday morning, I noticed a phone jack near the baseboard on the wall, which was previously hidden by a solid wood bookshelf. I casually mentioned its location to Eric, who for whatever reason, had a habit of bringing random things to school to disassemble during break periods.
Eric brought an old rotary phone to school the following week, and during break period, I suggested that we connect the phone line to the wall jack when the teacher was out of the room. We amused ourselves and a handful of our classmates by making prank calls to our friends parents, and when break period was nearing its end, we would disconnect the phone and hide it in Eric’s locker.
It was all fun and games until the day that we neglected to disconnect the phone line from the wall jack and Eric had to explain why his desk was making the sound of a ringing phone during class. Once the teacher discovered the phone, Eric was given after school detention for a few days, and we never saw the old phone ever again.
Later on that year, Eric’s desk became inexplicably overloaded with books and papers. It just so happened that on that particular day, we were told that our grade would be having a, “surprise locker inspection”. Eric started to fidget and get nervous, and I had no idea why. Later that afternoon, the teacher came around during break period and looked through our desks. Mine was neat and orderly, some of my classmates had the usual mess and disorder, while Eric on the other hand, had an enormous mess of papers, random things he had, “collected” from the class, and at the very bottom of it all, a single Playboy magazine.
The school principal was notified of the discovery of a nudie magazine, and he again received a few days of after school detention. Locker inspection came next. For some unknown reason, Eric refused to open his hallway locker, so after being given several demands by both the teacher and the school administration, the school principal came with his master key to open the locker.
Nothing could have ever prepared the school administration for what they found hidden inside the locker. Amazingly, Eric had amassed an enormous stack of playboy magazines, the likes of which the principal had never seen in his 30+ years of education. The stack literally consumed an entire 6 foot high school locker to the point where there was literally no space remaining to fit anything else. It was so packed full that the school administration had to send for the maintenance staff to bring down a hand cart from the school library to transport the hoard to the dumpster. For that, he received a 1-week suspension from school, though the notoriety and the sheer scope of the feat was never outdone.