Strip Clubs, Meth Labs and a Trip to Alcatraz

I am currently scoring fall district writing assessments and I’ve reached the point where I’m fighting the urge to stab out my own eyeballs with my pen. Instead, I’ve decided to take a few moments to share some of what I’ve read so far.

The assignment was to write a formal letter to a 17-year-old cousin who is contemplating dropping out of high school in order to get a part-time job to pay for the car she wants to buy. In this letter, they are supposed to incorporate facts and details, from a random list they were given, to persuade Alex that dropping out is a bad idea.

 The following paper was written by one of my students who clearly thought this assignment was a waste of her time.  Here is her letter:

Hey, hey Alex… If you are 17, a letter isn’t going to be very realistic but I’m going to be as realistic as I can.

          So you have informed me about your ignorant approach to acquire a motorized vehicle…You’re stupid.  That is pretty much all I felt like telling you.

          If you want to buy a car so badly, why don’t you work nights at a strip club?  If you’re attractive, I’m going to assume you are because you’re so stupid, you could make $800 a night.

          What are you gonna do after you’re all old?  Sure, you’d have your car…No man wants to see a forty-year old woman strip for them…Now, pretend we’re in the future.  You have 7 kids and your baby daddy’s bailed and left you. You have zero help.  You just got fired for being unattractive.  None of your family feels the need to help you, fore you seemed to have it all figured out when you dropped out of high school.  All your friends refuse to even be seen with you.

          Now what? Ha! Are you and your seven kids going to live in that car?  Well, you could become a drug dealer. Yes. Let’s pretend you chose that lifestyle. Now it’s about six months later and all y’all are doing great. All the money you guys could ever need.

          Uh oh… the FEDS just busted the door down to your meth lab! now their piling your seven kids into an ambulance… oh gosh!  There seems to be a helicopter that appears to belong to a news crew! You’re now in a black car and being taken far away to Alcatraz where you will be brutally raped by your fellow female inmates…

          Or the other way around. A rival gang could break into your house, kill 6/7 of your kids and kidnap your oldest daughter and sell her to a creepy old man somewhere in Africa.

          Now you’re really living happily ever after!– Stupid…

Oh boy. There aren’t even categories on my grading rubric for this paper.

Update: Look what I found at Barnes & Noble! (They forgot the part about staying in school. Stupid!)

Shortly after I read her letter, I came across another paper that contained the lines, “Life’s not about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about dancing in the rain. And the only way that will happen is if you stay in school.” I think I’m going to have that printed on a T-shirt. I’ve found a new way to motivate students.  

“Do you want to dance in the rain? Do you? Get focused and finish your assignment!”

(Oh. I almost forgot the girl who told me she couldn’t write the letter because she “didn’t have a cousin named Alex.” I asked her, “Do you want an A on this assignment? Then you’re gonna have a cousin named Alex.”)

Only 43 papers to go.