Dear Ms. Hargrove,
You’ve asked us to write about the incident that landed us in detention. You said to write something like some kind of club, in a movie or something, but I don’t know what club you’re talking about. Missy said you were talking about some old movie, but I don’t watch old movies. They aren’t very good. They don’t look right at all. I just don’t see the point.
But I digress, don’t I, Ms. Hargrove? Mr. Smithers is always telling me to stay on topic, focus. You know, the kind of things teachers always say. But that’s the thing. I wasn’t paying attention when Missy pulled the fire alarm. I don’t even know for sure it was Missy. I mean, I was looking at my phone, not at her.
False alarms are no laughing matter these days. I know that. But surely you can understand what a boring day it was. We’d had all that testing. Testing. Testing. 1-2-3…
Everybody needed something to happen! We were all in fog! I mean, maybe because you’ve been a grown up forever and a principal for most that, you’ve forgotten how foggy school is. I don’t mean there’s a literal fog. (Please, tell Mr. Smithers I used the word ‘literal’ right. He’s got like 20 bees in his pants about the word ‘literal.’ But not literal bees, obvs.)
I mean a fog that’s in your head and gets in the way of you thinking for yourself. My brother says you all don’t want us thinking for ourselves, but I don’t know. Maybe. But I don’t think that’s true of every teacher, do you? So, anyway, a good scream clears my head. That’s all. I wasn’t in league with Missy. She’s my friend, yeah. Everyone knows that. But she’s not my right hand or anything. She does what she wants. I know she was angry about the test. She was saying something about it being unfair. I guess in her class there was some kind of disturbance. And the teacher didn’t give any extra time to make up for it. I really don’t know. I wasn’t there and, like I said, I was really looking at my phone. Ty had sent me a message. He wanted my advice.
But the point is, you know how important these tests are. You tell us almost every day! That’s okay, of course. That’s your job. Can’t blame a person for doing their job.
I realize, however, my screaming contributed to the problem and wasn’t a constructive way to handle anything. And my time in the school’s reflective space has really helped me see that. Have you spent much time in the reflective space? Do principal’s ever get into trouble? Probably not. And if so, not you, of course. And you probably do your reflecting at home. Good for you! Maybe I’ll start doing that. That’s a good idea, isn’t it?
I hope, Ms. Hargrove, that you can forgive us and that this will not go into my file. Into anyone’s file. That’s unnecessary, don’t you think? We’re just kids. We’re just kids doing our best.
To Ms. Hargrove,
This is Missy. This is my letter of apology.
I’m sorry I pulled the fire alarm and scared everybody.
I’m sorry the exams scared everybody.
I’m sorry we were born into a world ruled by answers in bubbles.
I’m sorry you wear that ugly green jacket.
I’m sorry I got Nia in trouble.
I’m sorry she only pays attention to me when I’m a text message or an Instagram.
I’m sorry I didn’t pull the fire alarm before the test.
I’m sorry Ty had his backpack stolen in the confusion.
I’m sorry the reflective space is so stupid.
I’m sorry I got detention.
I’m sorry Ms. Lanagan didn’t keep control of her classroom.
I’m sorry Desiree waited until the test to punch Ben.
I’m sorry Ben exists.
I’m sorry I don’t know what movie you were talking about and that I hate clubs anyway.
I’m sorry I’m sorry.
Is this enough?
Very sorrily yours.
Dear Ms. Michelle Hargrove, Principal,
I, Benjamin John Davidson, Jr., apologize to you and the all of Augustus Abernathy High School for taking part in the disturbance on Friday, May 4th, 2018, at 2:32 p.m. I henceforth pledge that I will take considerable more care when interacting with underclassmen or women such as Melissa Kirchwey and Desiree Flake. As a senior I must be a role model and remember that the younger students do not have the benefit of experience with which I am blessed. Please believe that such a disappointing incident will not happen again on my watch. You have my word.
In addition, I’d like to add that I am familiar with the movie you mentioned, The Saturday School Club, and it is very funny. You have excellent taste in films, Ms. Hargrove. I, for one (and I know I’m not alone in this), am grateful you’re principal of AAHS. Thank you for your dedication to our education and improvement.
Benjamin John Davidson, Jr.
Hey Ms. H,
I’m sorry I screwed up at school. Next time I’ll keep my personal crap off campus and out of your hair. So, which do you think I am? The athlete, the basket case, the princess, or the criminal?
Also, not your breakfast club
©Marta Pelrine-Bacon 2018
Thank you for reading!