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The price for breaking the rules

There are occasions when old geezers like me pass time by scanning the Internet. It’s a wild adventure because one never knows what one might come across. Take, for instance, “student rights.”

I have no idea what possessed me to google student rights, but when I did, I came up with some really interesting findings. Do you know it is illegal to have students serve detention during lunch or on Saturday, or to punish students by having them run laps or do push-ups or to not allow students to go to the bathroom?

Hmmm, I guess things have changed some since I was a student. If we did have rights, I don’t remember ever being informed about them. I do remember missing lunch a few times, as well as running a few laps and being refused permission to go to the bathroom. Not that I didn’t deserve a little straightening out. If anyone deserved sympathy, it would have been my teachers.

Be that as it may, there is one infringement on a student’s rights that really brings back memories. It is illegal for a teacher to embarrass a student in front of the class. Wow, that law was evidently passed long after my school days.

I can remember all too well getting caught in the act of whispering to Karen Hokel during class. Karen sat in the desk directly in front of me. What I actually whispered to her has long since disappeared from my memories, but the penalty doled out by our teacher has remained forever embedded in my mind.

“Eddie, if you find it so necessary to communicate with Karen, you can sit with her.”

Now that was real punishment. Not that Karen was so bad to sit next to, it was the fact that a fourth grade boy was ordered to sit at the same desk with a girl. Oh, the pain!

Another agonizing memory involves coming back to class after afternoon recess. I had just started chewing on a piece of Bazooka bubble gum. Being too frugal to dispose of it, I decided to stick it to the top of my mouth. The teacher will never notice, I assured myself.

Well, she did! For the rest of the afternoon’s classes, that wad of chewing gum rested on the end of my nose. Not exactly corporal punishment, but I can’t remember ever again getting caught chewing gum.

The ultimate penalty I remember from my grade school days was handed out to a good friend of mine, the Roz. He decided the walk to the wastepaper basket was bit too far, so he simply tossed a piece of paper out of the classroom window. Caught in the act!

Roz spent the next few hours picking up all trash on the school grounds. Considering that the school grounds occupied two square blocks, he had his hands full. I have to wonder if Roz ever littered again after that particular afternoon?

Ed Rood is former publisher of the Tri-County Times. He and his wife Sharon live outside of Cambridge.

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