Monday, August 23, 2010

Scary science...

So today was the first day of school here in Austin. I'm trying to think of a good "back to school" memory I can write about, but they seem to all be along the lines of, "it's the first day of school? Already?? Noooooooo... NOOOOOOOOOO!!" (Which, incidentally, is almost exactly what I'm thinking every Monday morning: "It's Monday morning? Already?? Nooooooooo... NOOOOOOOOO!!") Schools in the south start and end earlier than schools in the north... I'm not sure why that is, exactly. I could theorize it's because it gets so much warmer so much earlier down here, but it also STAYS warm longer... but maybe going back to school -- even in "swimming weather" -- after a nice long break isn't as difficult as trying to concentrate after being IN school for nine months, and knowing that awesome swimming weather is lurking just beyond the brick walls.

But the weather can't be the only issue -- after all, I went to high school every year until June, in a school with NO air conditioning and precious few windows. That school was such a fire hazard. Who builds a school with no windows??? Oh, there were a few panes of glass here and there -- in the cafeteria, in the library, probably in the principal's office (I wouldn't know because I was never sent there... yes, I was one of THOSE kids -- the kind who actually do everything by the rules and get as many A's as possible to ruin the curve... mwahahahaha... actually, I rather enjoyed ruining curves... Hey, it's not MY fault if no one else bothered to read the biology textbook or memorized their German vocabulary...). And there were windows in the science classrooms, but I think that was a legal issue -- you can't hole kids up in a windowless room and set 'em loose with dangerous chemicals and their toxic fumes.

And hey, that DOES remind me of a "first day of school" memory -- my first day in high school chemistry class. The teacher was talking about our once-a-week lab requirements, and giving us stern, dire warnings about playing with chemicals. She pointed to the shower (which was situated right next to the door to the classroom) and announced that if any of us ever spilled anything on ourselves, she'd shove us right into that shower, rip our clothes off, and scrub us down. Nervous giggles ensued, and our teacher assured us that she was quite serious. (The word "pervert" may have been thrown out at that point...) Honestly, as if high school isn't awkward enough without the threat of public nakedness...

She also demanded that anyone who wore contact lenses should wear their glasses on lab days, because if any of us ever got chemicals in our eyes, she would have to rip those contacts right out of our eyes. (This was when I decided to never, ever mention to the teacher that I wore contacts... I mean, the threat of being naked was bad enough... but naked AND blind?? No thank you...) Needless to say, chemistry lab was basically a terrifying experience every week... NO ONE handled those chemicals as carefully as I did... and yet I STILL left every lab feeling as if I MUST have spilled something somewhere. I'd spend my entire history class (my class after chemistry) waiting for signs of an accidental flesh-eating chemical spill... or I'd wonder if I was feeling slightly nauseous because I inhaled dangerous fumes, or simply because I was worrying about inhaling dangerous fumes? I seem to have survived completely intact, so apparently all those fears were unfounded... I think there's a fine line between convincing your students they need to be cautious, and just downright freaking them out. My chemistry teacher jumped right over that line on day one...

But back to the school with no windows -- even though we were up in the north, it was MUCH too hot toward the end of May and early June in that stifling building with no air circulation... so allowing us to be on a "southern" schedule would've been nice. (And installing an A/C over the summer would've been a really nice touch, too... I wonder if that school has A/C yet??) My point is, I have no idea why schools in the south start and end earlier than schools in the north.

But thank goodness I don't have to go BACK to one... :)

2 comments:

G said...

My high school, when they were building it, had to choose between an Olympic sized pool or AC.

Guess what they chose.

If you said AC, you would be incorrect.

Lisa said...

LOL... Some schools just HAVE to go all-out for the extra-curricular activities. :) A few years ago, our school district built a $20 million stadium right across from our neighborhood. I realize high school football is a big deal in Texas, but really? $20 million?? That money couldn't have been put to better use? (Fortunately, the schools in Austin DO have AC, at least... :))