Pick-A-Day

July 2022
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Middle School

When I first started thinking about what I was going to write next, it was going to be a light and fluffy piece about my new pair of shoes – instead, I suddenly had a flashback to 8th grade and decided to write about it instead.

It came to mind because this past week Hill Middle School, in Denver, made news when one of the school bus drivers lost control, careened down the street, and into the dining room of a nearby house.

Fortunately none of the children were seriously injured, although the house is facing a few months of reconstructive work.

I have two links to this incident. First, my youngest nephew is in 8th grade at the school, and second, the current principal of Hill, Don Roy, was my 8th grade science teacher at Smiley Middle School.

Eighth grade, for me, was a miserable year. Beyond the fact that everybody hated me (for reasons I could both control and not control; I felt the same towards them) and the fact that my 8th grade science class was mainstreamed (not Don Roy’s fault, and why, to this day, I am completely and totally opposed to putting behaviorally challenged children in classrooms with anybody else), eighth grade was the year that two of my school mates were killed.

Before moving on I want to make clear that I do have compassion for the families of the two children even though what I am about to say is going to come off making me sound like a cold hearted asshole of a prick.

The two school mates were killed playing chicken on Colfax Avenue, a major and busy street that crosses Denver from the farthest point east to the farthest point west.

I suppose that I’ve never really followed up on the incident, but as I understood at the time, the police let the driver of the vehicle that hit and killed the two students go without so much as a citation, which suggests that the driver was completely and totally innocent.

That said, I have occasionally wondered what was going through the minds of my idiotic classmates—both the two who were killed while dashing between the cars, and the ones who survived. Why would you be so stupid as to think that dashing into the street is fun? What kind of mind set allows you to succumb to the peer pressure? (Mind you, we heard a lot about peer pressure in middle school, usually encouraging us to resist it when offered drugs.)

There’s also somewhat of a parental question: why would a parent allow their 13 year old kids go out with a bunch of other 13 year old kids in an unsupervised setting? Some of the blame might go back to the school, since the accident happened on what one could only describe as one of an excessive number of half-days (teachers needed a lot of in-service at my middle school).

So while I certainly feel sorry for the kid’s families—I still don’t actually feel sorry for the two kids in question—which is why I suspect people will think I’m a cold hearted asshole on this subject. My feeling then, and it remains the same today, is that if you’re stupid enough to play chicken on a busy street, you’ll probably get what you deserve.

4 comments to Middle School

  • Do you remember feeling invincible? The idea that you’d never die. Nothing bad would ever happen to you?

    Well, some 13 year-olds did. And they still do.

    It’s going to sound strange, but I blame it on society. We protect or children from questions of “life and death.” Too many children are unaware of the fragile nature of life. When you’re a risk-taker by nature you need an internal governor to stop stupid risks.

    I could see having a life where I would have played chicken. I grew up and have participated in a lot of life-threatening activities. (And I include dating that crazy woman back in the 90s. Hell, that turned out to be more dangerous than the skydiving.)

    What stopped me from being that reckless 13 year-old was a morning in 4th grade standing on the curb and watching my friend suddenly run into street to see another friend. The teacher whose hit him never saw him. I still can.

    Yes, I grew up to skydive, but I’m damn careful driving and I’m an absolute fascist around children playing traffic.

    Next time you see teen boys playing chicken….show them the mangled body of a friend.

  • heart felt post and peer pressure can b a bitch but i somewhat agree with what can b going thru there mind 2 make them do that? i guess my growing up was boring i was never under any pressure like that. i feel sorry 4 the moms & dads that had 2 say goodbye 2 them kids.

    cool blog!

  • koko

    I definitely don’t feel like you’re feelings make you seem cold or assholey. I had something similar happen to me in HS…This girl that made my life miserable was giving her boyfriend road head–he runs a stop sign and gets t-boned sending the girl out the window (god she was a mean cold hearted bitch). And you know what? I laughed when it happened, that was my first honest to god reaction. Seems like a really ridiculous thing to happen. She lived, but was in the hospital for months with a feeding tube.

    I feel badly for her family because they have to deal with such stupidity and pain…but wow, people can be really stupid. I think I’m more of a cold hearted ass than you though…because with that one girl I spoke of…I feel like it’s okay for me to laugh at her. (she was a senior in high school and spelled psycho, cyco…heh…dumb ass)

    Like you said, my heart goes out to their families…

  • ChrisC

    I tend to look at these kinds of incidents as thinning the stupid people from the herd.

    Darwin had it right!