Fifth period is at a rather difficult time of day. Much of the world avoids post lunch problems through use of the siesta. However, Americans boldly cling to the bizarre idea that humans are actually supposed to be awake during the mid-afternoon hours and try to conduct business as normal. Teenagers, who already have a very limited connection to reality, are especially hard hit by what I refer to as afternoon insanity. Knights, warriors, mythical gods, and other literary heroes have nothing over a fifth period public school teacher.
My first Nemesis arrived in fifth period on the first day of school to announce that he had just returned from prison, celebrated his nineteenth birthday, and was now ready to begin his high school career. He got off to an excellent start by walking out of class and slamming the door. Getting Daniel to sit in a seat was a Herculean task (except that Hercules would not have been able to accomplish it.) Daniel’s favorite response to any request was “Miss, I’m fixin’ to go guerilla on you.” I decided to overlook the obvious Texan nature of the comment and concentrate on keeping him from interrupting the other students in the classroom.
Having never attended high school before, Daniel did not immediately make the connection between attending school and passing school. He missed several weeks before he decided that coming to class might be worth his time. Unfortunately he decided it was only worth his time because he could sell drugs in the restrooms, and his only excuse to come to campus and use the restrooms was to attend an occasional class.
After Daniel discovered that blatant disregard for all school rules was not getting him the amount of attention he desired, he decided to try something slightly more abrasive He stood up during class and announced that he was going to bring a gun and school to shoot everyone. Then, just to make sure I knew of the special place that I had in his heart, he promised me that he would come and find me first. While flattered to be the first one he thought of, I decided that I would prefer to make it through the year without gunshot wounds. I asked him to sit down and finish taking his test. During our weekly meeting, I mentioned the exchange to my Assistant Principal who insisted that in any school shooting he would certainly be the first target. I held my ground and maintained my position as first in line.
A few days later Daniel was quite disappointed by the apathetic response he received and decided to try again with a little more fervor. This time, in addition to promising to find me first in his assault of the school, he stood up and acted out some target practice. By the third time Daniel promised to bring a gun to school the Assistant Principle lost patience and did the most logical thing: called a meeting. The attendees at this meeting included myself, Daniel, the AP, and our police officer. Daniel was informed that he would not be allowed back on campus until his parents came and met with an administrator (because, of course, the solution is another meeting). Daniel pursued the most obvious course of action and withdrew from school.