Monday morning, around 8:30 a.m.:
A silent classroom, rows of desks, rows of students. The radiator hums, #2 pencils scratch and scrawl across booklets. Pages rustle, students frown and sigh, then quick-check the ever-so-slowly ticking clock. There is the scent of peppermint LifeSavers in the air – “concentration helpers” courtesy the teacher. Somewhere outside birds sing and someones dog is having a conversation with its neighbor. Another two hours to go. Shoulders slump, then stiffen….back to work they go.
Monday afternoon, around 1:00 p.m.:
We are outside, in the brilliant sunshine, camped around picnic tables. Some of us are sprawled on table tops and benches, soaking in the warmth and the gentle breeze. A gym class makes its way around the track not too far away, and we hear the rhythmic thud of sneakers methodically wending their way around the oval. We are listening to “Wonder” – the laugh out loud chapters with the farting nurse and Mr. Tushman. Giggles and squeals and raucous laughter – we can hardly contain ourselves. Even Mrs. Smith is laughing so hard she has to wait, collect herself, wipe her eyes, before going on….
Three more days of testing…but here we are, enjoying the awesomeness of a great book and each other’s company. This is what we will remember of sixth grade.