bulletin board
events calendar
business directory

best friend
news briefs

Follow Us
Facebook youtube


Pictures and Awards

Each year a photographer comes to the schools and takes pictures of every child, large, small, in–between, with a teacher sandwiched here and there down the line. Most of the profit these guys glean is from the first and second graders. The older kids either lose theirs or destroy them purposely so they don’t have to show them to anyone, since for some reason they decide they don’t like how stupid they look. When it comes to picture-taking these fellows are noted more for quantity than quality. It doesn’t matter how the little ones turn out; they’re always real cute, so everyone has a hand out in hopes of getting one of their photos.

The first year I worked at the school, I let it be known that I’d sure like to have some of the pictures; mostly, I wanted ones of the small fry but couldn’t come right out and say so. Well, the word went from room to room, and I think every kid that bought a picture (high school too), saved one for me. Grandma Mary might not get one but the cook did. I kind of got the idea that maybe they could use this as a blackmail item, should I get out of hand.

I taped all the photos on one end of the kitchen wall—163 of them. How’d I know that when I took them down the paint would come, too? The janitor just handed me a paintbrush and a can of paint, without a word. I never collected photos after that first year, because the kids all wanted to trade and I’ll be darned if I was going to have my picture taken just so I could trade.
Not only was I honored with pictures, but at the end of each year there is an awards assembly, and I was always invited in to see the kids get their certificates, pins, plaques, or whatever.

Bonnie was a rather plain, quiet girl. She was never in any trouble, she never lost her temper, nor was she ever pushy. She kept her homework done and was always a meek, mannered child in her classroom. Her grades weren’t exceptional, just B’s and C’s, but she was on her way to making a name for herself. She went in to the high school with the record of not once being absent or tardy in the preceding eight years. She had seven certificates from her previous years; then in eighth grade they gave her a huge one with a large gold seal, signed by the governor. The school bestowed upon her several gifts to show their pride in her achievements. From her teachers she received a gold pen and pencil with her name engraved on them. She was very fond of (these) and would never let anyone else touch; might smudge the shine. The other gifts didn’t seem to please her nearly so much. The student body officers of the high school presented her with a pass to all the ball games for the next year. I don’t think she ever attended a game, but she used to loan the pass to some of her classmates if they’d do a favor for her. Her own class had one of their class pictures blown up and framed for her, but no one ever saw it again after that day. She wasn’t too proud of her class or maybe her main trouble was no school spirit. The dictionary that the members of the school board gave her she simply handed to her mother. There was no animosity toward anyone, just boredom.

Her mother came to the kitchen after the ceremony was over to wait for school to be dismissed so she could walk home with her daughter. We got talking of Bonnie’s great achievement. “’Twas hardly anything to brag about. ‘Twas last year we all realized she was a settin’ some kind of record. Been much better for all if she had missed some school.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, after that it didn’t matter if she was sick or dyin’, she went to school. She came down with the mumps a few days before Christmas vacation, but she didn’t swell too much so she kept right on goin’ to school. I remember when school started up afterwards, there were only ‘bout half of the kids at school. The rest had the mumps. Before she never did get sick, but this year she had everythin’. She had two bad colds with fever and miseries. In February, she got that there flu and, I swear, she didn’t shake it ‘til almost April. I know she’s the cause of so much sickness in school this year.”

I had a sneaking suspicion she was right. Most kids welcome a cold just so they have an excuse to stay home. I wondered about her coming four years in high school. Perhaps she’d become as much a menace as the plague. Wild horses couldn’t keep Bonnie away now. She would really fight to make a record of twelve years’ perfect attendance. Well, more power to her, I decided, as it would probably the only thing she’d ever be famous for. That sort of dogged dutifulness would kill the spirit of most anyone!

Although I always attended the awards assembly, once the janitor and I were both escorted to seats of honor. We know something was up—but not what. After the last award had been handed out, we were called to the front and each presented with a certificate, gold seal and all, for “service beyond the call of duty” It had been signed by every teacher in our district It seemed that the high school was as proud of us as the grade school. And to think, when I first started this job, all I could think of was how to get out of it!

About thirty of the smaller students marched to the front of the class, and each quoted a line as to what the certificates were for. Not because we were janitors and cooks, not at all! We were part time nurses, psychiatrists, playground helper-outers, finders of lost things, consolers, game-players, band-aid dispensers, hair-combers, face-washers, clothes-brushers, money-lenders, and on and on. When you’re finally convinced that you are truly loved and appreciated, and by so many, then your day is made!

This is an excerpt from her book, Eat it or Else, published in 1989.

08/192013 see more wordspot in the archive >>
Have a comment? >>