The following is an excerpt from Chapter 16: C Students. Click here to read the chapter in its entirety for just $0.99
Chapter 16: C Students
Strange smells filled the air as Swanson hunched over the black lab table during his chemistry class while dutifully in pursuit of exact measurements. Slowly he shook the contents of box “A” onto a scale as his partner’s frustrations mounted after failing to name the elements correctly the first three times. “Come on, man, why can’t you get it going faster?” Swanson was asked.
“Well, after three misses, I figured I might as well try and slow it down and figure from a point of strength,” he looked up through goggles firmly pressed against his temples, “Or, you know, you could hop in at any time and lend a hand, or something.”
“Whatever, just work it out,” his partner ordered as he frantically thumbed his phone.
“Yeah, doing it,” Swanson muttered to himself as he watched the milligram meter on his scale slowly inch upward with each careful shake.
“Teachers, excuse the interruption,” the announcements kicked on, “The baseball players need to speak with all of their teachers today. Teachers, please expect a visit from any baseball player at the end of each class, thank you.”
“What’choo guys do now?” Swanson’s partner asked.
“Oh, I don’t think we all did it,” Swanson said while glancing back to a pair of his baseball teammates that were making a lab twosome and pretending to work in the back corner. They noticed him looking in his direction and immediately unsheathed different, though equally offensive and obscene gestures.
At the end of class Swanson and his two teammates waited at the instructor’s desk as she completed other discussions with outgoing students. “Oh, David,” said Mrs. Chavez in obvious surprise by Swanson’s presence in the upcoming discussion regarding grades and sloth, “All right, well, I guess I’ll just tell the three of you, and you ought to know if you need to take advantage of it. But it’s been requested that we all offer you extra credit assignments. So, if you want to get your grade up in one fell swoop, I just need you to write a five page essay on something scientific.”
“Well, what about it?” the question came from Archer Donnelly, he of the obscene gestures and suspected involvement with the South Side.
“Do you mean what should you write about?”
“Uh, yeah, like anything science?”
“Yes, Arch, anything. You know, you’ve been sitting in my class now for almost three-quarters of a school year. I’d like to think that you might have had the opportunity to absorb something that made such an impression on you that you can go and find a little extra information and crank out an additional couple of pages. That’s on top of the information that we already discussed in class…”
“Well, I don’t have none of that stuff or notes or nothing. What am I supposed to do about all of that stuff?” Donnelly asked with increasing frustration.
“I guess you’ll be starting from scratch. In any event, if you want this credit you need to cite sources, make sure that it’s grammatically and structurally sound and hand in something that is good enough to warrant an A in any usual circumstance. Questions?” the three baseball players all shook their heads indicating the negative, “All right, you have until the end of the week.”
“I don’t think anyone has said this enough, but this is completely ridiculous!” Betty Furckleson, English Department Head was near shouting, “Look, I understand the need to help these kids are supposed to be learning? That they’re underprivileged and all of that stuff? I don’t get it! But, seriously, what’s the lesson that we’re teaching them? That if you make a big enough stink then everything that you wanted will just be handed over to you?”
“No,” Principal Dotter was losing control of his Friday morning staff meeting as the Science and English Departments railed against the school’s effort to boost athletes’ grades, “Again, nobody is going to just hand anything over to them. If they do the extra-credit assignments they should get the extra-credit. That’s it.”
“But,” Leon Washburn, Head of the Science Department interjected, “We’re not supposed to grade these assignments. So how are we not just handing the credit over to them?”
“Look, I don’t like this any more than you do, but the community is flexing its muscle and this is the guidelines that they are demanding.”
“Then say ‘no’!” many of the two departments shouted in some variation as the rest of the faculty started to grumble uncomfortably or laugh in irritated amusement at the two departments continuing outrage regarding the request.
“Nobody is going to say no to them. There are leaders from the community. I mean, really, we all kind of work for them. This is how it has to be. Coach Melendez understands. The administration understands. It’s now up to all of you, the staff, to understand how this is going to go down, and then go down with it. Got it? These guys have one chance to get ready for a big tournament that a lot of local businesses have put money up for so they can have the chance to go play in Las Vegas before Spring Break, and we’re going to do everything that we can to make sure that they have the opportunity to go and take advantage of that generosity. I mean, you might as well just get aboard.”
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