I have been mesmerized by watching history in the making in Tahrir Square in Egypt. Not that I am overly interested in International Affairs. [Oops bad choice of words since I was at one time married to a foreign exchange student] Anyway, I am spellbound by over 200,000 people gathered in one place. How is it possible for one third of North Dakota’s entire population to be all in the same place at the same time? Such a crowd of people is totally beyond my comprehension. I won’t even go shopping at Walmart Saturday or Sunday afternoon at 2:00……too crowded. If I go grocery shopping on Sunday mornings I have to be done before 9:00. That is when all the 8:00 church people start to pour in to do their shopping. If I time my shopping trips at the right time, most of the time I am the only shopper in any particular aisle at the time. I guess I took to heart the saying, “2 is company, 3 is a crowd.” Ironically, I have 7 brothers and sisters. If you add parents and a dog to the mix, I basically grew up in a crowd. Being part of a large family actually was a great time. It was convenient to have a whole crowd of people to play with or fight with all under the same roof. Plus, with 4 brothers I never had to shovel snow off the dam driveway or mow the stupid lawn. If I think about it, it is amazing that I am not visiting my mother is some padded room someplace. Now that I am taking this nostalgic walk into days gone by and talking about crowds, it makes me think of my sophomore year in high school and a crowd that I actually missed. It was the spring of 1970. Students across the nation were demonstrating against our involvement in the Viet Nam War. Then the unthinkable happened right at our own high school in Dickinson, North Dakota. The administration was going to take away our Study Halls and force all students to take six classes. Students were irate. The administration couldn’t just take way our Study Halls (which was really our free time.) How did they possibly expect us to keep up with 6 classes without a Study Hall? The administration was already treading on thin ice by forcing a dress code on the student body. Can you imagine we couldn’t wear jeans to school? Can you imagine girls had to wear dresses every single day? Then mini-skirts and hot pants cam into style and the administration realized letting girls wear pants was probably the lesser of two evils. Guys had to wear dress pants. Mostly they wore plain colored dress pants with a belt. But there were some knock ‘em dead plaid bell bottoms. Now, I am thinking, my classmates wouldn’t be caught dead in those plaid pants. Where was I going with all this? Oh yes, I was talking crowds and study halls. On May 13, 1970 I came to school in the morning and something big was going on. The word spread like wildfire. No student was supposed to go to their class after lunch. Instead they were supposed to walk out of the school building and take part in a sit-in to peacefully oppose the proposed changes to take away our Study Halls. It was so exciting! Our own peacefully demonstration right here at DHS! Unfortunately, I didn’t take part in this historic sit-in. Not because there would be more than 3 people at that would be a huge crowd for me. No, I missed it because I choose not to participate. My dad was a teacher on staff at DHS at the time and I didn’t think it was appropriate to take part in this rebellious behavior, however peaceful it was. Therefore, after lunch when the majority of the student body walked out the doors and sat on the lawn, I dutifully went to Biology class. Pam B., whose dad was the principal at the Junior High School, didn’t skip her class after lunch either. It ended up being me, Pam and our young, good-looking biology teacher, Mr. Reule. The three of us sat in the classroom speculating what was happening outside. Keep in mind this was not only a time of mini-skirts, plaid bell bottoms and peaceful resistance. It was also a time of no cell phones. No one could call or text us and tell us what was going on outside. Basically, Mr. Reule said that the sit-in would be a nice try, but the administration had complete control over the scheduling of the school day and none of the arguments the student’s had against the change had a “leg to stand on.” How right he was. The next year study halls were eliminated and we all had to take 6 classes. Later on the daily schedule went to a block schedule where the students only took 4 classes a day that were each 90 minutes in length. Just recently the schedule was changed again to include Study Halls. Actually, they aren’t called Study Halls anymore. It is no called Opportunity Time. Technically students have the opportunity to go to their teachers and get extra help. Yup, I am guessing all those students struggling in a class are just jumping at the opportunity to ask their teacher for extra help. Let’s be real. Opportunity Time is really the opportunity for students to have free time to waste time. Thus by definition comparison, it is really a Study Hall. In all reality it is Opportunity Time in Egypt. Let’s hope they don’t waste it.
About Me“Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you.” Dr. Seuss