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.

Dirty Jokes and Dirty Dancing

Today my students wrote letters to their parents for parent teacher conferences. While I walked around the room, reading over their shoulders, one student stopped me and asked:

Student: “Hey Miss Lewis. Do you want to hear a joke?”

Me: “Well that depends. You have seven minutes. Can you tell me a joke and still get your letter finished in seven minutes?”

Student: “Yah. Oh yah. I’m almost done with my letter.”

Me: “Well then I would love to hear a joke.”

Student: “Ok. A guy walked into a strip club-”

Me: “Ok. I’m going to stop you right there.”

Student: “No. No. It’s not dirty. He goes to a strip club because he’s going to order a steak. It’s just called a strip club because it’s like a strip. As in like a steak. I swear. It’s not dirty.”

Me: “Okay. Let’s just start with the part where the guy orders a steak.”

Student: “Fine. This guy orders a steak and the waiter brings it out and it’s all bloody. They guy asked the waiter, ‘Why is my steak bleeding?’ and the waiter says, ‘It’s because I just got done beating my meat.’ ”

Me: “Now you just lied to me. You told me your joke wasn’t dirty.”

Student: Using his book and pencil to pantomime a butcher tenderizing a slab of beef with a mallet. “Get it? It’s not dirty. He was like beating the meat.”

Me: “Well that may be true, but why is the joke funny?”

Student: Thinking quietly to himself for a few seconds before his face and neck turn bright red.”Ohhhh…

Me: “Yep. It’s not just the words you actually say, but what the joke actually means, that make it a dirty joke.”

The remainder of the afternoon went pretty well.

And then came the after-school dance.

The Cafetorium (yep, that’s a thing): Is pulsating with the sounds of Nicki Minaj and clouded in a thick fog of BO and Axe Body Spray.

In the center of the cafetorium, is a clump of kids “dancing.” In the center of that clump, an 8th grade boy and girl are making out a ton. A staff member, pulls me aside. She asks if I know the girl student, and when I tell her she’s in my 2nd Block, she says, “I think you need to pull her aside and talk to her. About what she’s doing.” Before I can approach the student, Miss S. has her pulled to the side and is giving her a lecture.

After the dance, I’m standing in the hall, sending kids on their merry way, when I stop to see the nurse and Miss S. talking about this same 8th grade girl.

Me: “So what was she doing? I was told to talk to her, but you had already taken care of it.”

Miss S.: “She was standing in the middle of that circle, with her boyfriend, and they were French kissing. I’m talking his tongue was all the way down her throat.”

Me: “Ewww. Gross. I just saw him getting handsy and told him to stop. That’s gross.”

As we’re standing there gossiping the two kids start towards us on their way out the door. I lean in to Miss S. and the nurse, “Watch this.”

Me: “Hey A_____, come here for a second. I asked the nurse to come here because I was worried about you. I wanted to make sure you were okay. Are you okay?”

Student: “Yah. I’m okay.”

Me: “Are you sure? Because I thought you might be having some trouble breathing. Is you’re breathing okay?”

Student: “Yah. I’m fine.”

Me: “Are you sure? It looked to me like you were having trouble breathing during the dance. You know. With that obstruction blocking your airway.”

Student: “Awww, Miss Lewis.”

Me: “I just wanted to make sure. But if you’re okay, you can go home now so the nurse can check my retinas. I’m pretty sure they were burned from watching you at the dance.”