Thursday was our last day of school before Spring Break. It was a half day and, it must be said, I had absolutely nothing planned. Ah videos, the refuge of the desperate Social Studies teacher. As my sadly depleted first period filed in (a good half of my students were in Florida on the much anticipated band trip) one of my shining stars from last year bopped up to me.
“Ms. W, you have J in your first period, right?”
“Yep hon, but he’s not here today. Or at least I haven’t seen him yet.”
“Oh nooo, Ms.W., J’s parents wanted me to tell all of his teachers that he was in a serious car accident last night and it will be a long recovery. He probably wont be coming back to school.”
“My god, what happened?”
“He was driving and crashed the car. He was speeding and not wearing his seatbelt. He got thrown out of the car.”
Her words seemed to come in little spurts, short sentences that managed to convey only the consequences, not the where, when, and how that I so desperately wanted to know.
“Ok hon, thank you for letting me know. Please keep me updated if you hear anymore today.”
I walked, dazed, into my first period where I told them the news. This is a class of almost all boys, mostly thugs, their favorite activity (besides learning about U.S. History, of course!) is “throwing down a beat” on my tables and trying to invent new dances. They quieted down though, enough for me to tell them about J and relate to them about my dad’s own serious accident, where his life as saved only by a seatbelt. I begged and pleaded with them for several minutes to wear their seatbelts. They agreed solemnly. 10 minutes later they were arguing over which scene in 300 we should start with.
After first period, one of my hallway thugs came up to me.
“Ms. W, I don’t mean to be weird or nothin’, but can I take J’s spot on the Senior trip?”
“Talk to me after break.”
Later that day my informant found me in the gym and told me that J’s leg had to be amputated.