School Skippers

blog post
Junior high school skipping in most non-urban towns is rare, but not unusual1observation/judgment not verified by statical data.
Disclaimer: Much or even most of the following is second-hand, so I cannot testify in court to parts unobserved by me.

The teachers’ union was on strike and the school administration declared that student attendance was optional. It was a strong union town, so most parents did not send their kids.

Brothers Darryl and Darryl whose names I’ll take from the Newhart TV show2 “Hi, I’m Larry. This is my brother, Darryl and my other brother, Darryl.” were twins in grade level, but nearly a year apart in age.3Yes, this sounds a little like the girls in “Of Slugs V” but… The boys were walkers and usually came to school on a path from the neighborhood through the trees mentioned in my post about Skifoot.

Neither Darryl the Older nor Darryl the Younger were destined to be Rhodes Scholars, but neither were they in danger of repeating a grade. Their standardized tests showed ability a few points above their class subject grades, but neither liked school which influenced their scholastic levels.

Well, back to the skipping incident.

The boys arrived at last bell and went to the gym for a shoot around supervised by a substitute teacher. The jocks and want-to-be jocks dominated ball possession, so Darryl and Darryl were permitted to watch one of the movies being shown in classrooms supervised by other substitutes.

With only about 100 of the school’s 600 students present, lunch was served early. Darryl the Older shared a plan with his brother, but neither had ever missed lunch, so they’d make their move during transition back to one of the classrooms.

I was on the picket line on public property with a full view of the woods. Older and Younger stepped out the back door and looked both ways. I wasn’t sure until later if they saw me or not. They sprinted to the path they usually took coming to school. But instead of going out of sight on the trail, they turned and moved tree to tree like our Revolutionary War militia men avoiding the British4They did see me but thought I was too far away to recognize them..

Where the woods ended a little over 200 yards from the school building, they broke into a full sprint and disappeared behind a convenience store. A minute or so later, their heads appeared at the corner of the building. Their posture was, ‘look casual’ as they came around the corner and entered the store.

All of that was Friday, the strike was settled over the weekend, and schools were in full operation on Monday. Just after school, the Darryls approached the vice principal at the bus line. Older asked if their parents had been called about their being suspended. After they volunteered a detailed confession, VP didn’t tell them school had been optional on Friday. He said something like, “I’ll excuse it this time, “but never again.”

I have no idea if they skipped again.




blog post
Just saying.
My seventh-grade team lost only one game that season.
Being qualified to coach football in the junior high school wasn’t difficult in those days.

Usually, coaches were also the PE teachers and for whatever reason history teachers. I was neither but coached a season of seventh grade football. The previous spring, I was an assistant track coach. My qualifications for coaching: I ran track and played football in high school.

I was approached to coach the team and could earn $750 for the season. Since my regular contract paid $7,500, it was a true bonus. That’s right – we made four digits in those days, but our house cost only $17,500.

Most of the players ended up on the junior high varsity as eighth graders or freshman, and all but a few eventually played high school ball. In those days junior high was 7-8-9 and high school was 10-11-12.

Some of the post season discussions were about the other junior high in town wining only one game that season. Players on that team had the same ensuing success as those on my team at the high school that drew from both junior high schools.


There is more to the story. The only game we had was against that other junior high school.



Happy New Year 2021

blog post
What a year that was.

You know to which I refer, so I mention no numbers. In that light, it’s over, so


I took Christmas Vacation off for no blogging. But you knew that.

Isn’t it still disturbing when someone knows what you know and tells you anyway? As I said before, feel free to fill in the snark line. Unless it’s generally offensive, I’ll probably approve it. And you can always make a confidential note on my contact page.

I read an article about the pressures put on by the New Year’s resolutions. Well, it was more about the pressures of the guilt after not keeping the ones that seemed the most important at the time.

Therefore, I’m not making resolutions! And I mean it!

However I do have some liketas. First, I’d liketa take credit for coining the word liketa which seems to imply I’d like to. I’m not going to bore you with my Liketa List because at the end of the year, whatever I do may or may not have been on the list.
Now it’s time to start on the list.
That could be a waste of time.


Christmas Break

Any time is a good time to thank my readers.
You are the ones who know I’ve been doing a series on school experiences. I’m not sure why I would tell you what you already know. Isn’t it disturbing when someone knows what you know and tells you anyway?
Well, since it’s time for students to be on Christmas vacation, Christmas break, holiday break, holiday vacation, or whatever it’s being called this year, my blogs about school experiences will be on break until the new year.


blog post
As I said in my “Skifoot and She” posts, most students with whom I dealt over the years were average. However, I was challenged often by many whose natural abilities far exceeded mine. But in my defense, like recognizing a good ‘gotcha’ I was not intimidated by or rejecting of young talent.

Emerging computer technology in the mid-1980s was a challenge to many teachers. My having some operational experience with 1960s military versions I had somewhat of an advantage but that’s another story.

I took a computer programing class and put what I learned to use. I wrote a 200-line program in BASIC (Beginners’ All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code) on an Apple II and adapted it for Atari and Heathkit computers. Math anxiety woodshop students entered data to determine the number of board feet1surface area in a project. Knowing the board feet was necessary for calculating the cost of a project.

Classroom trials of the program were satisfying so I developed a volume calculating program. Both programs were published in the vocational education journal School Shop.

I was comfortable with telling myself, “I’m keeping up with the techno-geeks.”

A technology ‘gotcha’ came into my life when a freshman student tried the program and said something like, “Mr. Benson, I believe I can make this work faster and appear better on the screen.” I took that as a challenge and gave him my raw data and the programs I’d written.

The next day he presented me with what he said he could do.2Wish I’d saved a copy of his work for comparison to mine.

I decided to be a computer user and let the younger and faster be the developers.

%d bloggers like this: