Eighth grade meant many more changes. Classes were in a different building on campus. Unlike seventh grade where I was with the same group of students for all of my core classes, this year meant encountering a wide range of students. There were a few individual students who shared classes with me, but for the most part each class had a unique assortment. I really got to see a broader scope in learning abilities and interest in learning. In my English class, that wide range was more pronounced as I was mixed in with several students who spent a lot of time serving in-school suspensions and just didn’t seem to understand or care about the importance of getting an education.
Oddly enough, while I was placed in regular classes and not an honors level or ninth grade equivalent for English and math, I somehow landed a spot in a program called SOAR, which was geared toward gifted and talented, I suppose. I have no idea how I qualified for it. Maybe a teacher recommended me. This class really challenged me. It meant extra protects and research.
I struggled in SOAR because my research skills were not on par with what was expected. I had trouble opening the range of search terms and ways of looking for information. I tended to get stuck using specific search terms and topics.But overall I think it was a good experience in the end. It forced me to push beyond comfort levels, especially with presenting projects to the class. And I was exposed to a group of students who could function at this level which offered a nice contrast to my classmates in English. (I’ll discuss my experiences in English class in a separate post.)
Eighth grade was my introduction of using the internet for research. It wasn’t as populated with items as it is now. I had no concept it existed until we were asked to use it. It was about this time when my parents got an internet connection at our house, so there hadn’t been a lot of interaction.
I remember at my previous school how there would be announcements asking for input on what should be included on the website for the school. Only, it was referred to as “the web” and nothing more. So, I pictured a large bulletin board with a Halloween-esque spider web and information was arranged on it. That’s what I envisioned when people discussed “the web.” The dial-up connection was fun to navigate; having to unplug the phone line so that you could use the internet. That’s really where having a second phone line came in handy!
Somehow I won third place in the Science Fair. I’m really not sure how that happened. It was a bit crazy of an experiment to see if distance makes a difference in how accurate people are with shooting and making shots on a basketball court. Just because you’re closer to the hoop, does that make it easier to score? My trial involved my family and no one else. It was completely scientific and without any bias at all considering I was actively on a team, my brother and dad played a little and mom much preferred to watch than be involved. Perhaps I gave a more convincing write-up in my report than what the raw data showed.
But hey, the girls basketball team did really well for the second year in a row! We only lost one game, and that was a Christmas tournament so it didn’t count for the regular season rankings. It was a lot of fun to be on a winning team!
Social skills and boys
I spent a lot of time with friends outside of school. We went to the movies and the mall, talked on the phone. While I don’t remember how much I was actually contributing vocally, I at least had a group of friends to hang out with. They included me in conversation and inviting me over for whatever what happening. Then again, I was able to be more free with sharing and speaking up when I was comfortable with the people around me. We weren’t popular, were a little weird, but we got along with almost everyone and that was enough. My small, tight group of friends shared an interest in the same kind of music and finding ways to be creative through writing.
We were all very much boy crazy and obsessively talked about boys we thought were cute, or if they happened to look in our direction. There wasn’t much direct communication with these boys, just wishful thinking from a distance. But that was okay too. You can learn a lot about a person just by observing how they treat other people, if they have a sense of humor and so on. We did, however, perfect the art of taking pictures of each other while framing a crush in the background. So, while I didn’t really practice interacting with boys, saving myself from rejection, it also meant not taking chances and putting myself in a position to really develop a different kind of relationship.
Writing across the curriculum
In math class we had a writing assignment to explain how Santa Claus could deliver all the presents in one night. The gist of my explanation is that he didn’t. Presents were delivered throughout the year. He would be in disguise and use cars across the country and then when he finished he left those cars behind. That’s why there are so many abandoned cars on the side of the road. But also these packages would be invisible in people’s homes near where a tree would eventually be set up, only becoming visible on Christmas Eve. That’s why when you stub your toe on something and can’t find any reason for what you hit, you actually hit an invisible present.
I remember having an assignment in art class where we were asked to draw something and incorporate cross-hatching to add dimension and texture to our work. I drew my shoe, and it actually looked like a shoe! The biggest surprise was getting the assignment back and receiving an A. I was convinced my teacher had made a mistake, and I remember asking her to help explain specifically what I had done to earn an A.
About this time I got into wearing necklaces, bracelets, rings and earrings. I’d wear choker necklaces and multiple bracelets. But it was weird. When it came to wearing rings, it was a tactile thing. Wherever I wore the ring first, that’s the only finger it felt comfortable. If I tried putting it on my thumb or another finger, it would feel weird and wrong and it would cause noticeable discomfort. I didn’t understand why that was. I just figured I was very particular or that it was being a creature of habit, much like the need to sit in the same seat in class even if there aren’t assigned seats. I wore jewelry during high school too, to a degree, but then it just became more bothersome.