Chapter 17: Memorial Middle School(2000-2001 Term)
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Memorial Middle School in 2000-2001
We began the year at Memorial Middle School on August 7, 2000; the students began the next day. We had a new principal and a new set of teachers. Our new principal was Jose F. Esquivel. Team D, which had been my team, was combined, with Team C. Mrs. Santana was our team leader and math teacher, Mrs. Wanda Smith was out ELA teacher, Mrs. J. L. Wheeler was our science teacher and I was the American History teacher. Mr. Gus Garza had been transferred to another team. Additionally, our teams were given a name chosen by us. Team C was now Team Enterprise.
The students thought that this new name was kind of a "corny" idea. One student commented that, "having a team named after a rocket ship isn't really that cool. This was a general feeling among the students." At the beginning of the year this confused the students who were used to the old alphabetical system. This was seen as a general start-up problem, most students adapted pretty quick.
This was a whole new group of children, some of which I got a sample of during the previous year's T.A.A.S. math class. This was also the first year I had a challenge class. I would, before the end of the year be certified to teach this class. Challenge students are very difficult cookies. Smart, brilliant and motivated; they represent the culmination of the best students chosen for their abilities and talents far beyond those of mortal students. Yes, challenge students! Able to leap the next level in a single bound.
As a whole the student body of out team was very diverse and healthy. As seen in their ability to be loved. I only hope that I can be the guide they need to excel. Every student is capable of really great things. Especially in this world where its more popular to worship the dumb and stupid. Our students need positive role models to counteract the effect of the "dumbing down" of America. It is sad to say, but many smart children are lost when they try to be like characters they see on television that are purposely dumb and attracted too things that are stupid, like drugs and alcohol.
This year would be very innovative. I would get a computer; I would work more in the library and even teach the children how to march. I would get to complete my second full year of teaching with students that I could always remember.
I helped in a new project that Librarian Nancy Hauske intended to introduce to the school. At Memorial, during the lunch period, a national news program for Children called "Channel One" was shown to the students. Normally, my students didn't get to watch it since we were out in the Portables and didn't have a cable "hook-up." Mrs. Hauske, who had acted as our librarian since 1999 thought she could spark renewed interest in the program by filming (video-taping) a short 7 to 10 minute segment called the "Brahma Break room." This news show featured a cast of 8th graders and guests in the form of a news program. Announcements, school news, birthdays and all manners of materials were presented to the school populace. Common recurring characters were, Mr. Ismael Maldonado, the 8th Grade Principal; Coach Charles Anders, 7th grade Science Teacher; and myself.
Notable performances included the show on Dr. Pepper Clones. This segment actually has a story and can trace its beginnings to the afternoon 8th period. Normally, to relieve the pressures of the day, I spent some or all of my conference period in the library. It was quiet and it had the Internet. Unexpectedly, I began to befriend the 8th period library aids. One in particular was Marie Holt. Marie enjoyed looking up strange bizarre, but clean, things on the Internet. Of these included railroad "wigwag" grade level crossings, the World's Largest Catsup bottle and, of course, Dr. Pepper clones. What is a Dr. Pepper Clone? This story actually has its roots in my college days with Joe David Soliz. We were looking for web sites on cloning and discovered Dr. Pepper clones. You know, drinks that try to taste like Dr. Pepper, but aren't really what the doctor ordered. Well, we had a show with several Dr. Pepper Clones (including Dr. Stars and Stripes, Dr. Wells, Dr. B, Dr. Parade and Mr. Pibb to name a few), we then had an informal taste test.
Another, filmed when Mrs. Hauske was out, was filmed outside in front of the glass windows. People would pass by and make strange faces. In yet another, I gave students ideas on science fair projects. All in all, it was great fun. The crew would tape early in the morning, at about 8:00 a.m. It was mostly student driven, written and produced.
I also met this student named, Aleida Moreno, who was my former teacher's daughter. She was sometimes silly, but was a pleasure to have in class. I had never had one of my teacher's children in class and it was a unique turn of events. Everyday when she came to class she always thought I had someting to say about her. I always did. She tought it was revenge, but, I wasn't trying to be mean. I wanted her to use my material on her friends. This would help her develop her wits and prepare her for the cruel High School.
She was a sweet students and I know she will do real well in High School.
One of the issues of the day was the coming of my new car. I began the year telling the students that I was going to get a new car. That car was the Chrysler P-T Cruiser. I ordered it before the school year began from Love Chrysler in Alice, Texas. My brother worked there as a porter and then as a mechanic. By the 9th of April 2001 it had still not arrived. This was over 7 months in waiting. I was warned that the car's popularity might delay its arrival, but I grew weary of having to explain why I was not driving it.