My 7th Grade essay on The Quad, the asphalt-covered area between our school buildings.
Junior High Schools have pretty much gone the way of the mastodon (my kids attended middle school). But Los Coyotes Junior High was designed to be just what its name implies: high school lite, a taste of teenagerdom — “Now with half the acne!”
We had core rooms where we’d study multiple subjects grammar-school-style: Social Studies—about which I was ambivalent. Reading—which I loved; except I hated “speed-reading,” considered important back then due to the efforts of a crazy lady named Evelyn Wood whose “Reading Dynamics” system is now considered the educational equivalent of Monopoly money. I could have told them back then that books, like food, are meant to be chewed and savored! So, RISP (rest in speedy peace), Evelyn. Language Arts—this was my favorite subject because it meant that I, future bestselling author Jules Paris Casino (my sophisticated pen name), got to write!
Core room was also about Citizenship, considered so important it was broken into ten categories! My core teacher, Mr. Dickson, a retired Marine Corps drill instructor, was responsible for all ten, including #9 Self Control. Little-known fact: It was Mr. Dickson, not Mr. Spock, who invented the Vulcan Death Grip. He would step up behind some blithely jabbering boy like, say, me, and squeeze their shoulder so hard that his thumb and forefinger would actually kiss beneath the clavicle (I learned that word in Science class). Discipline, thy name was Dickson. Still, like my 6th Grade teacher, Mr. Dickson did it all with a gleeful glint. Plus, he drove a cool car (a Corvette Stingray!) and he loved my writing, especially when I waxed sarcastic (see essay above). So, shoulder pain notwithstanding, Mr. D was my guy!
After core room, we’d shuffle off to high-school-style single-subject classrooms: Math, as taught by so-skinny-you-could-blow-him-over Mr. Peters, was boooooring. Except when he tried Mr. D’s famous death grip on me and I made the entire class roar by pounding my desk and squirming in mock agony. Science was pretty cool, especially when we made conical paper “phalanges” to illustrate finger bones during Mr. Poljack’s anatomy lecture and made him laugh so hard he cried. Practical Arts—wood and metal shop for boys, homemaking for girls (sorry, it was the 60s) was groovy. And Elective Period, the crown gem of my school day, Drama, was life-changing. But for that…
You’ll have to wait till next week, kids!