Declare Your Major!

career books cropI was reading an article in my county newspaper about the impact of local overcrowded public schools. One frustration expressed was that because there aren’t enough technical high schools, it’s difficult for children (parents) to plan their (kid’s) right career track during middle and elementary schools. So what does that mean? Now you’ve gotta declare your major in fourth grade?

If my Westowne classmates and I had stuck with our career goals in fourth grade, the world would be full of veterinarians. Back then, nobody wanted to a Forensic Anthropologist or Personal Life Coach when they grew up.

In the old days, in seventh grade (or Junior High, remember?) you were either College Prep or Vo-Tech. The classes were organized by grade and then a letter. 7-A was the smartest kids in seventh grade taking French. 7-B was the smartest kids in seventh grade taking Spanish. (That was my class. But I got a D in Spanish.) And so on down to mid-alphabet, maybe K or M.

You changed rooms for each subject, but basically traveled with the same bunch of kids. We’d scatter for Band, Music, Gym and Home Ec or Shop. But regroup for the classes that counted towards college.

The students in 7-J took alotta noisy, kinda mysterious, door-closed classes in the basement. You never saw them in the Language Lab or the Science Hall. Those kids would have j-o-b-s before they graduated from high school, if they graduated from high school.

In our white-collar eyes, the Vocational Technologies kids were the dummies. In retrospect, perhaps they were the smart ones. While most of us were off pursuing a college education and a lofty career, they were working in the local gas station or restaurant. Now all of 7-Jers own those dealerships and franchises.

And some of us academia are still chasing the dragon.

The School Locker Nightmare

Lkpp9xDo you still have nightmares about not being able to find your school locker and even if you do eventually find it, you can’t remember the lock combination and even if you do eventually remember it, the damn door won’t open? And does the Late Bell just keeps ringing and ringing? Yeah, me too.

Before there was Middle School, there was seventh, eighth and ninth grades—Junior High. My reoccurring dream involves the putty-tan half lockers that lined the modern (circa 1967) Music Wing at CJHS. Unless you were coming up the stairs from gym, to get to your metal box with its built-in three-digit cipher, you had to veer off the first floor’s main drag, go down a few steps and then through a double set of double glass doors into the hallway. It got so congested; Safety monitors were assigned to enforce its entrance as One Way, going in. Like shiners into a minnow trap.

So every time I see yet another teenager TV sit-com set in front of a well-lit bank of well-decorated school lockers, I cringe. In junior high, getting to/fro one’s locker seemed like a crazy multi-floor version of musical chairs. By high school, you’d conquered class changes and could fit some make-out time between bells. But when you’re in seventh grade, it’s the stuff dreams are made of.

Yet Lizzie, Hannah, Raven, Zoey, Cory, Carly and their cronies seem to spend an inordinate amount of school time giggling and gossiping, plotting and planning in front of their lockers. I clicked past Nick TV’s, iCarly, just in time to see three boys rolling around like a snake ball in their Middle School’s hallway. In my (not the) day, kids got suspended for that kind of behavior, not a laugh track.

Fortunately Morgan’s never been taken in by the taking of artistic license. But more than one young homeschooler, especially, it seems, eight-year-old girls, has been brain-washed into believing that’s really what public school is like and beg to be a part of the show. Bratz dolls in training bras.