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Back to School: Not-So-Smart Choices

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THE NOT-SO-STRAIGHT PATH TO ADULTHOOD Try as we may, it isn’t always easy to be the perfect student. (Illustration:

Fall – “back to school” – is generally regarded as the time to jump back into schedules, straighten up, and fly right. But just like everything else with kids, things don’t always go as planned. 

That was the case with these individuals, all of whom asked to remain anonymous, for obvious reasons.

One high school freshman, now working on his degree in business and data science at a competitive east-coast university, decided to vape in class. (We promised anonymity, for obvious reasons.) 

This nameless high school freshman decided to find out what all the vaping fuss was about. (Was this his first time to explore that question? Probably not. But his parents, at the time, were sure it was.) No one has ever said the prefrontal cortex of 15-year-old boys is a bastion of sound reasoning, and that proved true when this one was inhaling his JUUL electronic cigarette…just before his engineering teacher walked into the classroom. 

Panicked, the boy pulled his polo shirt over his mouth and nose to hide any incriminating evidence. Unfortunately for him, he eventually had to breathe. Upon exhaling, smoke started billowing out of the sleeves and collar of his shirt. 

“The teacher looked at him and said, ‘You’re outta here,’” his dad says. “The principal took his JUUL and put it in a drawer. With a ton of others.

“He’s lucky he didn’t get suspended. Just your basic dumb move. But he still got an A in the class.”

Another now-college-aged young man working on a degree in construction management shared his own “going to the principal” story…from his Catholic elementary school.

“In fourth grade, all of us were really into Duck Dynasty,” he tells us. “Si Robertson was our favorite character, spelled S-I. We had these computers, and our favorite thing to do was look for new screensavers. So I looked up Si, S-I, and I immediately shut my computer, because it was a Sports Illustrated bathing suit edition, and that’s all that showed up. Just a bunch of Kate Upton, Verlander, whatever. 

“So then of course I turned to my buddy and was like, ‘Huh. If you look up Si, apparently he’s a bathing suit model.’ This other kid was like, ‘I gotta see this.’ So this kid looked it up, immediately freaked out, and tried to close his screen. But those early 2000s computers just would not shut anything down. Everybody was looking at his computer, freaking out, because we’re in fourth grade. The teacher came walking over to see what was going on, and boom, Sports Illustrated, Kate Upton, and tiny bikinis. My buddy immediately ratted me out. 

“My only defense was that it really was Si Robertson who I was trying to look up. I went to the principal, and I got my computer taken away for the weekend. I got a talking-to about not looking up girls in bikinis in class. But my parents did think it was hilarious.”

Yet another college-aged boy reminisces about a friend getting in trouble for letting his emotions get the best of him in a middle school math class. “We used to count how many times this teacher said okay in class, like nine-times-nine, that’s 81, okay, okay. And my friend Ben, he was really frustrated and he was getting kind of a hard time from the teacher. So my friend said back to the teacher, ‘Dude, you’re literally bald.’ Off to the principal.”

Similarly, a college graduate remembers her history teacher’s propensity to say you guys, as in You guys, we are going to start this chapter. “She used it in every context you could think of,” the young woman tells us, as she adds, “Don’t give names and don’t give my school, because everyone will know it’s about her.”

“So of course we kept a ‘You Guys Log.’  I was laughing one day, and she asked what was going on, and I had to put my head down on the desk because I couldn’t keep it together. Later she came over and saw the ‘You Guys Log.’ It also had her name on it, and she was like, ‘Oooooh, no, that is not gonna work. See you in detention.’ By the way, she said it 75 times in one week.”

Kids, do as we say, not as we do. Time to straighten up and fly right.

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