The day I walked into Lincoln Park High School, my father accompanied me to the administration office. From a distance, the peace and serenity in the compound only added to my fear being that I hated quiet places. Every student we come across wore stone face, so serious that could set a stranger on his or her heels. “Daddy, why should you insist on me joining this graveyard like a school?” “why can’t we just go and look for a school with some life?’ I asked, but none of these questions were answered by my father, who had by then assumed a serious mood and as the saying goes, while in Romans, do as they do, so was my father. Mr. Richards, the principle last words to me after admission was “Jonathan, be seating at the front line of the class due to your height.”
Mr. Richard called the class repressive to walk me to my new class. I was not in the mood of even waving my father goodbye because to me; this was no learning institution. Back in my mind, I perceived a high school to be a free, jovial and a merriment center. Unfortunately, such words had no meanings in Lincoln Park High School. I introduced myself to my classmates who to me, were too busy to pay attention. The only word I heard from the was “welcome.” I got an vacant seat on the front line and sunk in it with a heavy heart.
Nothing unusual happened in the first few two months after joining the school. The only thing that bothered me was the constant call by the various teacher to either give answers to questions that only God knows what they meant or read out some passages aloud. I was tired ding this every now and again. “Jonathan can you give us the answer to that simple question,” “Students, may we give our reactions to the question, Jonathan please begin the discussion,” “Jonathan, please read out that passage aloud” Jonathan…. Jonathan…. Jonathan! I was tired of being the pacesetter in a class of over one hundred students. I wondered whether being short in a class of tall student meant I was the youngest, and, therefore, I was to be the first to begin any reaction that called for student participation.
Enough was enough! I had to shift to the back of the class to avoid the constant participation in class even if I had no mood, or hungry; that was none of my teachers’ business so long as I answered their tiresome question. One morning the class teacher walked into the class to inspect and confirm if all was well in her class. We dreaded Mrs. Jenifer like plaque; she tolerated no nonsense in her class. Any mischief resulted in punishment or suspension from school. “Jonathan, what happened that you decided to move to the back of the class without prior notice to the class teacher?” asked Mrs. Jenifer. “I am sorry madam, but I have since developed a medical condition of long-sightedness, meaning I am not able to see the writings on the board clearly,” I lied to her.
At the back seats, life was moving so smooth, and the comfort I had was compared to that of the school principle behind his office table. So relax I was that even my parent realized that my attitude had changed towards school. I started attending lessons very early than most of my classmates. Little did my class teacher, parent and even some classmates know that, while at the back and away from the hawk-eyed teachers, I was only relaxing and passing time. Of success was that on rare occasion was I pointed out in a class by the teacher to answer questions or when I chose to answer the questions.
My grades started falling drastically, but nobody ever realized the cause. Just like other students, I always had a serious face of an academician, always walked swiftly like someone in a hurry to capitalize off the limited time to do the assignment. My father sneaked into the principal’s office to make inquiries about my grades that were from worse to worst at a speed only understood by linear motion principles. My class teacher to was in inquiry panel and after some time when my laziness got a toll on me, I started carrying a smartphone to class to chat with friends on social media.
Out of ignorance, I could not realize that the purpose of the class representative is moving to the back seats, and during the lessons he constantly looked in my direction. At times, I could smile so broadly whenever I read something funny on my phone.
The proverbial fortieth day knocked by one fine afternoon, as the Mr. Richards, who rarely walked into our classroom more so when lessons were on. Deeply buried into my mobile phone all over a sudden, the room went quiet, but it took me time to realize that. The security guard and the principal, were standing right beside me. “Jonathan, get up and stay silent,” come the deep voice from the principle. From his eyes, all I could smell was danger coupled with bloodshed. For a minute, my blood pressure slowed down, my heartbeat stopped momentarily as my body froze in double confusion. A sharp pain pinched my stomach and down fell the mobile phone I held in my hand, and like a hosepipe I wetted my pants in full view of the principal and the entire class.
The punishment of cleaning the lavatories for a month, sweeping the compound clean every morning before classes as well as reporting to the class teacher office with the day’s class assignments completed for the next one month, was so unbearable. It was like asking a three-year-old kid to complete reading Hurry Porter novel in a weeks’ time. I had to resume the front seat in class, but what remained permanent in the school notice board list of shame was the “the backbencher” against my name.