Can Cool Kids Make A’s?


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E.L Barnett, Contributing writer

When I was a senior back in the day, I didn’t really care about much of anything. My days were full of laughter, skipping class and planning the greatest senior prank of all time. I could care less about school, nevertheless my English class. However, today was different; I found myself feeling anxiously sitting on the edge of my seat as my teacher, Mrs. Locklear, tediously calls names to review final essays. Why hasn’t she called my name yet? I nervously think to myself, all the while trying to keep a cool demeanor. Jokes crack behind me with intentions to gather as many in the crowed as possible, but I don’t have an appetite for laughter, I shrug it off. “Mr. Barnett”, her voice pierces my ears, as I peel my clammy hands off the faux wood desktop, I approach her desk. Mrs. Locklear was never one to smile at me but as I get closer a grin come across her face, my eyes instantly hit the floor. Finally, I reach her desk and place myself in the warped plastic chair, the seat still warm from the person before me, she hands me my essay.

Mrs. Locklear was a stout Native American woman with chocolate milk colored hair, she always wore a brown cardigan and gold framed bifocals. My first day in her class she was calling roll and pronounced my name wrong, not like sort of wrong but to the point where I had to decide whether to even respond to that poor excuse for a correct pronunciation, so I didn’t. At the end of the roll she asked if there was anybody she missed, the class laughed as I raised my hand and began my rebuttal. At that point I realized I just made it to class clown status. I knew she had it out for me, but I did the bare minimum to keep her off my case, “Maybe she will forget about it in a few weeks”, I thought to myself.

School was always easy for me; English was probably my favorite class because I knew all I had to do was write three or four decent papers and I would pass. Teachers would often harp on the importance of writing and how it is practical to use as and adult, that didn’t intrigue me, I was more worried about making friends, and cool kids don’t make A’s. In the back of my mind I knew I could do better, but I just never had a reason to give my best effort. Mr. Locklear would always seem to be in my head almost as if she knew I wasn’t tying, she never gave me more than C. That made me angry, “Is she trying to tell me that I’m average?”, it really got under my skin, but I was always told C’s get degrees, so I used them to shoot three pointers at the nearest trashcan.

Five weeks into my final semester Mrs. Locklear gave out individual topics, I knew this was it, she’s finally going to get me back for my shenanigans all year. As I continued to doodle on my college ruled notebook, she approached my table a hand me a slip of paper, I unfold the awkward square she folded. “Euthanasia?” how am i supposed to write and essay on this subject I thought?  She stood at the edge of my desk for just a second to long, as if to wait on me to look up at her and plead for mercy but I never did. She stepped away just as the bell rang and I couldn’t have been more relived, in route to the door I stop. I couldn’t help but think, why not give her a piece of my mind, I’ve had enough. I storm to her desk and voice my opinion about her and ask what her problem is with me, the answer shocked me. She told me that she gave me a difficult topic to challenge me, “show me I’m wrong about you” she said. I don’t usual care, but I felt like I had a point to prove in that moment.

I spent the next four weeks doing research, collecting all the juiciest facts and perfecting my concept. It felt good, I began to connect with my paper and once my fingers touched my dust-covered keypad the words began to flow. Finally, I finished, and I could not have been happier with my it. I slipped my essay into a plastic protective sleeve and centered it on my nightstand under my lamp as if it was signed by Micheal Jordan and waited until morning. Today is the day, I grab my essay along with my morning cup of coffee with only one destination in mind, Mrs. Locklear’s class. I slid in the classroom early enough to make sure my paper was the first to be tuned in and swiftly took my seat.

Here I sit in this warm warped plastic chair and she hands me my essay. I clutch it with clammy hands and flip it over to reveal a large red A across the top. There was little to no teacher annotations other than the occasion double space and grammatical error. I was speechless. At that moment I could see clearly, she didn’t hate me or think I was average but the exact opposite. She expressed that she knew I had potential it just took a different approach to get it out of me, something I didn’t understand until that conversation at her desk that day. I couldn’t contain my excitement as I made the walk back to my desk. I guess cool kids do make A’s.