You Can’t make this stuff up!
This is a guest post from my fraternity brother Marty K. He is a retired school teacher and at least as cranky as I am, maybe even more. I am on hiatus, so it is this or another re-run. I think this is better.I am a retired high school special education teacher. Some call me Special K.
When I was teaching at an urban New Jersey high school, my coworkers and I would often tell each other “war stories” about what happened in the classroom. We often prefaced the stories by saying “you can’t make this stuff up!”, except we used another word starting with “s” in place of “stuff”. You know what that word is.
This is the true story I call “The Great Chalk Dust Caper”. As they used to say on those TV crime dramas, the names have been changed to protect the innocent, or, in this case, the guilty. Let’s call the three students in this case Larry, Moe, and Curly.
One day, Larry, Moe, and Curly decided to prank other students by leaving hand-prints in chalk dust on their backs. It would be lots of fun, and no one would get hurt.
So, they ground up some chalk in a pencil sharpener and put it into a sandwich baggie. Swinging into action during the time between classes when the halls are crowded, they dipped their hands into the dust, and then slapped some backs, leaving white hand-prints. They laughed and ran away, dropping the baggie onto the hall floor.
No harm, no foul, you say….not quite. A teacher noted the baggie and feared foul play. After all, a baggie of white powder in a school hallway could be cocaine, or even anthrax. Chalk? Nah…
She notified the SRO (Special Resource Officer), who followed procedure. He kicked it up the ladder to the principal and the police department brass.
Next, we went into something called “Code Red, Lockdown”. This is what the principal called out on the intercom system. It means that teachers must immediately lock their classroom doors and turn out the lights. Students are to move away from the windows so they cannot be seen by a possible shooter.
This happened late in the school year, and it was hot out. The school was hot inside, and getting hotter. It was during a lunch period – we had four – and the four cafeterias were jam packed with hungry kids. Of course, those students couldn’t be hidden from some imaginary shooter. There were simply too many of them. Those students in the cafeterias were hooting and howling, calling the world on their cell phones, and giving the “Jersey Salute” to the news helicopters milling overhead.
The law enforcement agencies swung into action – the local police, the county police, and the state police all swarmed the building. A mobile crime lab was brought up from New Brunswick.
When the dust settled and the crime lab boys did their thing, the white powder was determined to be….chalk dust. We returned to the rest of the day, which was about over.
Where was I, you ask? Well, I was very lucky. I had hall duty that day, and procedure was for me to get into the nearest classroom and hide. The nearest classroom was an air conditioned Special Ed. Room, and I ducked in, along with a fellow Special Ed. Teacher. We were just across the alley from the largest cafeteria, and so were able to watch the antics of the kids in the main cafeteria – all 800 of them. That’s how I know what they were doing.
What happened to Larry, Moe, and Curly? Of course, they were caught. One of them, Larry, was my student, another, Moe, was also a Special Ed. Student, the third, Curly, wasn’t Special Ed. They went to court, and were judged responsible for the overtime bill for the various law enforcement officers called into action. How much, you say? $90,000.
What happened to Special K? He went home and had a shaker of dry vodka martinis, or was that two shakers…..I really don’t remember.
What were those kids like in class? Well, that’s another story, which I call “Jackass, the Math Class”.
Then there’s the story of Special Ed. gang signs…..and no, you can’t make this stuff up….
The overreaction to a simple prank, somehow reminded me of the Baby Ruth candy bar in the swimming pool in the movie “Caddy Shack.”