Monday, February 27, 2006

Be afraid of the dark.

With a horrible windstorm outside, we had a blackout for two hours at school today. That would be two hours with my 6th period. For some reason I thought the end of days would be longer. I'm not going to go into all of the gory details, but let me entice you with this image--under the cover of darkness, my student crawling through the ceiling and into the AC ductwork.

You see, my room lacks windows. Actually, most of the classrooms in the school lack windows. There's an urban legend around campus that the architect who designed the school actually designed prisons for a living, and schools in his free time. This lack of windows coupled with what little light was available made for a particularly surreal experience in my room. I'm standing in my pitch black room, illuminating as best I can with my emergency flashlight. The students, meanwhile, are doing their earnest best to shine some light with their mobile phones, PDAs, and iPods, all contributing to a sort of eerie blue-green glow in the room. So I consider just one student in the ventilation a triumph. But, that's a subject for another blog.

But, the most disturbing thing was how the administration handled the whole thing. Procedure states that in cases of emergency, students should remain in the classroom. So, I positioned myself as a barricade at the door, which had to be done. With no word from the outside world, the students were growing restless, inching their way to the door as the minutes passed, all the while shining a muted, soft glow on my person and one another with their electronic paraphernalia. I felt like some victim in a zombie movie as they crept closer and closer. Keeping one eye on my brain eaters, I had to peek outside the room to look for an assistant principal that was supposed to be bringing updates. This was also protocol--or at least it was supposed to be.

What actually happened was that an assistant principal would run by and stop at the end of the hallway, which I was at the opposite end of, and shout something unintelligible, and then run off. I have no idea what it was because, once again, I was at the opposite end of the hallway. I assumed it was bad news because, well, is it ever good news when someone shouts, hands cupped around mouth, followed by running away? She could have been saying, "Every man for himself!" for all I knew.

I've never been to AP school, so I don't know what one does in this situation, but couldn't I have gotten a face to face visit in those two hours? Some signal flags? Hand signs? Jungle drums? Something that's not from Titanic's playbook?

The students, meanwhile, were ready to reenact Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome once they were done with Night of the Living Dead impressions.

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