Memories of my school days

in #weeklychallenge012 years ago

Growing up I wasn't forced to go-to school like most of the other kids were, I went because I wanted to. Family issues prevented the need for me to go-to school, and presented more of a "at least stay out of the way" approach to my parents and other caretakers style.
I nearly failed every subject, mainly due to lack of turning in homework on any set basis.. I did the homework I thought was beneficial, which from the age of 10 on mainly meant a little bit of English, so I could read better, and some math, so I could measure things and do calculations on the projects I was working on.

Yup, from the age of 8 or so I had already developed a knack for problem solving and taking things apart to put back together, or make modifications to.. nothing was out, I took apart most anything I figured I'd be able to out back together, and made lots of crazy inventions...

I did absorb knowledge, but not in the form the teachers liked.... I got amazing scores of most of my tests, and definitely acted out in class. Even had a teacher in 7th grade kick me out of the class in such a fashion he threw the desk at me as I got out of the classroom to sit on the back side of the class to wait for that bell. He was a good teacher though, he played "dust in the wind" on his guitar and I saw hope in that song,..... Hope of not wasting time and just dying without meaning something... I wanted more from my life then the expectations set by my family and the rest of society for me. On welfare, probably addicted to meth or heroin, and having multiple kids by all the baby mommas.... But not me, I made sure I didn't go down that road.

In 4th & 5th grades a pair of teachers, Mr Fink and Dutart got me thinking about fine tuning my chess game, which I did, and even placed 1st in our school tournament.

In 8th grade, I was presented an opportunity to help the other kids, in a peer counseling group. The science / English teacher saw something in me, that I genuinely cared, but not for the status quo.... Part 1 of this peer resource group was everyone got a copy of chicken soup for the soul, this was about 1993/4. One of the stories made me breakdown and cry, out of hope and nostalgia... Amazing read... And here it is for you,..

All the good things

He was in the third grade class I taught at Saint Mary's School in 
Morris, Minnesota. All 34 of my students were dear to me, but Mark 
Eklund was one in a million. Very neat in appearance, he had that 
happy-to-be-alive attitude that made even his occasional 
mischievousness delightful. 
Mark also talked incessantly. I tried to remind him again and again that 
talking without permission was not acceptable. What impressed me so 
much, though, was the sincere response every time I had to correct him 
for misbehaving. 'Thank you for correcting me, Sister!" I didn't know 
what to make of it at first but before long I became accustomed to 
hearing it many times a day. 
One morning my patience was growing thin when Mark talked once too 
often. I made a novice-teacher's mistake. I looked at Mark and said, "If 
you say one more word, I am going to tape your mouth shut!" 
It wasn't ten seconds later when Chuck blurted out, "Mark is talking 
again." I hadn't asked any of the students to help me watch Mark, but 
since I had stated the punishment in front of the class, I had to act on it. 
I remember the scene as if it had occurred this morning. I walked to my 
desk, very deliberately opened the drawer and took out a roll of masking 
tape. Without saying a word, I proceeded to Mark's desk, tore off two 
pieces of tape and made a big X with them over his mouth. I then 
returned to the front of the room. 
As I glanced at Mark to see how he was doing, he winked at me. That 
did it! I started laughing. The entire class cheered as I walked back to 
Mark's desk, removed the tape and shrugged my shoulders. His first 
words were, "Thank you for correcting me, Sister." 
At the end of the year I was asked to teach junior high math. The years 
flew by, and before I knew it Mark was in my classroom again. He was 
more handsome than ever and just as polite. Since he had to listen 
carefully to my instruction in the "new math," he did not talk as much in 
ninth grade. 
One Friday things just didn't feel right. We had worked hard on a new 
concept all week, and I sensed that the students were growing frustrated 
with themselves—and edgy with one another. I had to stop this 
crankiness before it got out of hand. So I asked them to list the names of 
the other students in the room on two sheets of paper, leaving a space
between each name. Then I told them to think of the nicest thing they 
could say about each of their classmates and write it down. 
It took the remainder of the class period to finish the assignment, but as 
the students left the room, each one handed me their paper. Chuck 
smiled. Mark said, "Thank you for teaching me, Sister. Have a good 
That Saturday, I wrote down the name of each student on a separate 
sheet of paper, and I listed what everyone else had said about that 
individual. On Monday I gave each student his or her list. Some of them 
ran two pages. Before long, the entire class was smiling. "Really?" I 
heard whispered. "I never knew that meant anything to anyone!" "I 
didn't know others liked me so much!" 
No one ever mentioned those papers in class again. I never knew if they 
discussed them after class or with their parents, but it didn't matter. The 
exercise had accomplished its purpose. The students were happy with 
themselves and one another again. 
That group of students moved on. Several years later, after I had 
returned from a vacation, my parents met me at the airport. As we were 
driving home, Mother asked the usual questions about the trip: How the 
weather was, my experiences in general. There was a slight lull in the 
conversation. Mother gave Dad a sideways glance and simply said, 
"Dad?" My father cleared his throat. "The Eklunds called last night," he 
"Really?" I said. "I haven't heard from them for several years. I wonder 
how Mark is" 
Dad responded quietly. "Mark was killed in Vietnam," he said. "The 
funeral is tomorrow, and his parents would like it if you could attend." 
To this day I can still point to the exact spot on 1-494 where Dad told 
me about Mark. 
I had never seen a serviceman in a military coffin before. Mark looked 
so handsome, so mature. All I could think at that moment was, Mark, I 
would give all the masking tape in the world if only you could talk to 
The church was packed with Mark's friends. Chuck's sister sang "The 
Battle Hymn of the Republic." Why did it have to rain on the day of the 
funeral? It was difficult enough at the graveside. The pastor said the 
usual prayers and the bugler played taps. One by one those who loved 
Mark took a last walk by the coffin and sprinkled it with holy water.

I was the last one to bless the coffin. As I stood there, one of the soldiers 
who had acted as a pallbearer came up to me. "Were you Mark's math 
teacher?" he asked. I nodded as I continued to stare at the coffin. "Mark 
talked about you a lot," he said. 
After the funeral most of Mark's former classmates headed to Chuck's 
farmhouse for lunch. Mark's mother and father were there, obviously 
waiting for me. "We want to show you something," his father said, 
taking a wallet out of his pocket. "They found this on Mark when he 
was killed. We thought you might recognize it." 
Opening the billfold, he carefully removed two worn pieces of notebook 
paper that had obviously been taped, folded and refolded many times. I 
knew without looking that the papers were the ones on which I had 
listed all the good things each of Mark's classmates had said about him. 
"Thank you so much for doing that," Mark's mother said. "As you can 
see, Mark treasured it." 
Mark's classmates started to gather around us. Chuck smiled rather 
sheepishly and said, "I still have my list. It's in the top drawer of my 
desk at home." John's wife said, "John asked me to put his in our 
wedding album." "I have mine, too," Marilyn said. "It's in my diary." 
Then Vicki, another classmate, reached into her pocketbook, took out 
her wallet and showed her worn and frazzled list to the group. "I carry 
this with me at all times," Vicki said without batting an eyelash. "I think 
we all saved our lists." 
That's when I finally sat down and cried. I cried for Mark and for all his 
friends who would never see him again.

Helen P. Mrosla

It really stuck with me ... Anyways.. moving along... In highschool I knew it was about time to start thinking about college and later in life things .... Joined debate class, drafting, body conditioning,.. and learned some other valuable lessons.... Aside from people in general suck.

Such as, paying attention to details, drafting was serious business. Along with chess which I still played, I was learning the art of critical thinking and problem solving.... Which would jump start my magic:the gathering career, yes, career .. I baught and sold cards as well as competed in events,... I wasnt super successful, outside many top 8 finishes in regional and lower events, but I baught and sold a lot of cards, enough to support myself through some times in my life that would've been homeless otherwise, yes, I paid my rent slinging a card game...
I also learned some neat tricks link mind linking to remember long lists of things.... By mental imagery and telling a story with the items on various lists, which helped me excel at some tasks....

I did get messed up, remember I didn't like to do homework and relied heavily on my test scores, so I did get behind in credits for highschool to graduate on time, senior year I was on task to catch up, when my counselor neglected to inform me of a nights class starting, hindsight says that was my fault, I should have been more dilligent, lesson learned. And I was forced to the "adult" school as my senior year I was 18, and couldn't finish that summer (class wasn't offered) and couldn't do the next year as a 19 year old. That was a huge blow to me, and set me back a little bit, so I dropped out because I didn't want a GED which the adult school was pushing on me,.... After some months (about a year and a half), a friend reminded me that if I asserted myself enough, they would let me go through with the diploma courses and I could get my diploma. And I did. I didn't walk, that was too corny for me, but I got my diploma, and I was more then my family ever expected of me at that point.... A few short years later I left that hometown and never looked back.

Life hasn't always been easy, and likely never will, but what I have, I earned. And I'm proud of that and what I've accomplished,... I never lost my thirst to do better and to keep on learning, and that has made all the difference.

Additional writings that as I discovered them made a meaningful impact on my life was...

The road not taken
Robert Frost

Hackers manifesto

Ravers manifesto

Everybody's is free to wear sunscreen
Baz Lurhman sang it, I believe an Aussie newspaper person wrote it?

In any event ... These are some of my memories of my school days.. I hope you enjoyed.

~ Rob


Some of us never fit the mold, and the system hates to adapt to us. So we must go it alone, or else squeeze through the cracks and muddle along as best we can in their system.

Agreed, 100%. I'm just thankful younger me had the ability to pick himself back up time an time again, to get where I am today.

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