By Grace Walker
By Nora Lovell
Some people’s idea of a terrible experience is that time they had the flu or that miserable horror movie marathon your friend suggested where you couldn’t sleep for a week after. Mine, and I know a few others, is middle school. So of course the masochistic side of myself thought that revisiting my alma mater, Sunny Brae Middle School, would be a hilarious and not at all traumatizing experience, perfect for the experience issue. So, I dragged along my backup, Nora Lovell, because the idea of being stuck alone in a conversation with an old teacher made me feel like I was going to be sick, and headed off.
Our contact was the lovely Ms. Pennisi, who some of you may know as Coriell’s sister. She met us in the office as we were signing in and grabbing our visitor passes and proceeded to lead us to her classroom, where I immediately flashed back to 8th grade english where we destroyed the other classes in our grade-wide game of Scrabble.
The bell rang, signaling the end of lunch and the 6th graders quickly shuffled in for their natural sciences class. None of them were late. It was shocking. They started with a warm up, “What happens when you drop a pebble or a rock in a pond?” They spent about 15 minutes on this. Honestly. To pass the time Nora and I made up our own science warm-ups in the back. If the pebble’s mass is 0.05 kg and it falls from 4 meters, on Earth, what is its potential energy? (Hint: Ug = mgh) Well, we solved that in 20 seconds and proceeded to make up a couple more physics problems while the gremlins, I mean sixth graders, finished up the quick-write.
They spent the next 30 minutes talking about earthquakes so I took the time to really scope things out. Do some real, professional, observing. They were all minature, even smaller than the freshmen, who I view as being pocket-sized. They liked to raise their hands, they didn’t just wait to be picked like it was the Hunger Games and you were going to be forced to kill the rest of your classmates. They were genuinely excited to answer questions. I can’t even remember what that feels like. They were all fresh-faced and ready to go. It made me feel like a bitter old man.
“Up, Down, Up, Down,” can still be heard by Beckstead (or DJ or even Doug Jr. as us Sunny Brae kids mercilessly called him), our old PE teacher. We’re all the way across the school and his yelling is just as loud as ever. Later, through the window, I see them running laps and playing kickball. I used sophomore PE as a study period.
The period ends and the Italian class comes in next, they start off with the word of the day, “arrivederci,” a word they spent 5 minutes trying to guess what it meant. I wanted to poke my eyes out. Next they were presenting their projects, each had an Italian city to present to the class. The first kid got up to present their city, Vinci, where Leonardo da Vinci was born (who could have guessed). That was their main fact, basically the whole presentation. On one slide of the powerpoint was Da Vinci’s famous painting, the Last Supper. “Uh yeah, this is one of his paintings, I think the guy in the middle is supposed to be important but I don’t know.” Jesus, the kid was talking about Jesus. The guy in the middle. I lost it. Nora had to punch me in the arm so I could stop laughing.
By the end of that period Nora and I were just done. We couldn’t take any more. Seeing all these kids in our old classroom was too weird and bringing back too many uncomfortable memories. We thanked Pennisi and got the hell out of dodge. If I don’t get anything else out of this experience I am at least am 100% assured that I’m happy to be moving forward with my life and I really don’t want to be a kid again. Sixth grade me must have been an idiot.