Making the Grade
When I was a child our family moved quite a bit. During my 13 years of primary education and High School we moved a total of five times, and I attended 7 different schools during this time period. One of those schools was a tiny little rural school called Pleasant Lake Elementary. Even though it was a small country school, it was actually one of the better ones I attended. It had a great Music program, but in particular, it’s the science program that stands out in my mind.
There is only one other project that I remember specifically from those years. It earned an indelible place in my memory bank. It was the project on calories submitted to our fifth grade class by my classmate, Jeanine. Jeanine’s project was stunning. We, her classmates, had spent hours cutting out letters, frantically pasting pictures, and drawing on our white poster boards like men on fire. But our projects could not hold a candle to Jeanine’s. Her headings were typed. Her pictures were flawless. They were mounted perfectly. It put our less than pristine attempts at the art of gluing construction paper to poster board to shame. There was little doubt to our young minds that her project stood heads and tails above the rest.
Jeanine’s presentation was as equally impressive as her display. She stood confidently up by the teacher’s desk as she spoke, framed by the sunlight pouring through the windows of our second floor classroom. When she opened her mouth to speak, we were astounded as we sat listening to a flood of scientific lingo that rolled deftly off her tongue. We watched with rapt attention as she heated up her Bunsen burner. We had never heard or seen anything like it and we were duly impressed. That spring, during the heady days of science fair fever, Jeanine earned the rarest of rare compliments from our otherwise rowdy fifth grade class –we sat listening in awestruck silence. You could have heard a pin drop.
Suddenly a voice from the back of the room pierced the silence with an inquiry. It was the voice of Mrs. Fee, our teacher, asking Jeanine a question about her project. Jeanine responded to the question with another flood of the scientific lingo that had so effectively amazed the rest of her classmates. Mrs. Fee’s voice reflected something other than amazement as she asked, “What does that mean, Jeanine?” Jeanine’s face began to redden and broke out in a sheepish grin as she replied, “I don’t know.” Mrs. Fee asked Jeanine another question about her project and was answered by yet another flurry of scientific lingo. Mrs. Fee again asked Jeanine, “What does that mean?” and once again Jeanine, her face growing an even deeper shade of red, responded that she did not know.
The cat was out of the bag, and our class erupted in giggles. The final death knell tolled on Jeanine’s project when Mrs. Fee asked her who had actually done her project.
Caught up in the merriment of her classmates, Jeanine responded, while giggling herself, “My mother and sister.”