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February 16, 2007 / Maleesha Kovnesky

Pubblic Skool was gooder than you thunk!

A few posts back, I mentioned that my third grade teacher made the class listen to Paul Harvey during lunch.

Looking back I can see that Mr. Williams was addicted to Paul Harvey, and he decided that he could listen to it on the clock as long as it was some sort of lesson.  So he turned it into a lesson on memorization.  Imagine a group of eight year olds listening to Paul Harvey, intently, taking notes on the stories.  Why did we do this?  Because at the end of the broadcast, Mr. Williams would ask ten questions and whoever got them all right was rewarded with candy and coolness (Although trust me, you would have never caught me with any kind of ‘coolness’ in the third grade).  If there was a tie, then the third grade class went into ‘sudden death’ mode.  It fostered a very competitive environment.  I occasionally won the Paul Harvey game, but where I really killed ’em was the spelling bee or the multiplication table quizzes.

Everything was a freakin’ quiz or game to Mr. Williams.  And the reward was candy and fake money.  I’ll get to the fake money in a bit.  I blame a lot of my current teeth fillings on Butte School District #1.

Okay, the fake money.  All year we were told to save our “dollars” in our desks.  And I am proud to say at the end of the year, I had so much fake money that there was no way any other third grader was going to outbid me on the final competition of the year…an auction.

Mr. Williams had lots of toys, and even more candy, that was to be auctioned off during the last week of school, just before summer vacation.  We got to see what we were bidding on a couple of days early so we could think about what we were going to try to win.  I knew what I wanted right away.  Of course, part of that was because every scummy little third grade boy wanted it too; but I wanted to win it for my brother.  It was a car-racing track set, the kind where you piece together the track and rev up the cars and they would race by what at the time we thought was sheer magic; but we now know is really some 3-cent patented trigger system put together daily by low-paid workers in China.

Auction time came and it was brutal.  The kids with just a little bit of play money settled early for bags of candy and rubber snakes and the like.  I can’t remember how long the auction took, but a couple of boys in the back of the room secretly started pooling their ‘cash’ to try and outbid me on the track set.  They probably should have worked on their spelling over the year instead, because even after they combined funds, I still had more than enough to stomp the whole class.  I was the proud winner of a cool car-racing thingey.

And I can’t remember what ever happened to it.  I am pretty sure my brother was happy about it back then.  We didn’t have anything else like it.  I’m sure it was broken and whatnot before the end of June. 

But I did learn something important in the third grade. 

People will try to combine forces to take you down if they can.  Make sure you have plenty of Monopoly money to cover your ass when they do.

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