The eighth grade steal

When I described some of my experiences of playing basketball in public school (find that here), I described a moment when I made a steal. I wasn’t sure if it had been during seventh or eighth grade, but as I reread my eighth grade journal I discovered an entry. Here, in all of its glory, is my rendition of what happened.

I’ve never been one to describe myself as a great storyteller. Mostly as a matter of struggling to figure out what details to include and what to leave out, not having that natural sense of how to dramatize a moment verbally. But it’s a different kind of thing when writing it out. I can write out what I want, rather than trying to gauge how a story is being received in the moment, attempting to make spontaneous adjustments.

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Poem: I Am

Struggle of wanting to help but not being sure how. Can one person make a difference?

In eighth grade we were asked to complete a form poem. Each line began with a certain phrase and we had to finish the thought. A typical response for this assignment was a bunch of random thoughts that somehow added up to introducing you a bit more, showing likes/dislikes/interests. Mine turned into something with a more mature theme.

I’ve included the template we were given to follow.

Given the content of the poem, I see this as proof for myself that I did want to help people in whatever way I could.

Yet, I’m still not sure why being kind, listening to what others say, being available and helping others were seen as secondary characteristics and behaviors. Why was seeking academic success, athletic abilities and other talents seen as more valuable? Those abilities can be taught or learned. But how you treat other people, whether you care about others or only yourself, that’s more of a fundamental thing. That really has to come first.

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Eighth grade English: The reality check

Eighth grade English was a small introduction to the real world. Not everyone is eager to learn. Not everyone wants to be in school. Not everyone has respect for teachers or those giving presentations. Kids act up and cause disruptions in class for no reason. Not everyone does the work or makes an effort.

I viewed trying and making an effort, being respectful and paying attention as expected behavior. I wasn’t abnormal for following those protocols, but I viewed others as weird for not doing so.

This year was also a glimpse of the real world because of my teacher. I had known Mrs. Davis for most of my life. Her mother lived two houses down from us. Mrs. Davis had two daughters. Madalyn, the oldest, was my brother’s age, and we’d hang out a lot. I had a deep respect for Mrs. Davis. I knew she taught English, but I never would have guessed she’d end up being my teacher. I was with students who made an effort and then there were several who put up a fight every step of the way and just didn’t care at all.

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The highlights of eighth grade

Screenshot 2017-06-05 at 10.54.00 AM

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.

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