No School (Pt. 3)

Here is the next installment in the saga of No School. I am aware the title is still not that great.


Maria Marker and Dom Decimal traveled away from the magic island toward the main land. This time they did not go hungry and they were not thirsty. The goodie basket that Pickle had given them kept the two satisfied on the short journey. On the third day they saw land. The boat hit shore. Maria and Dom dragged it into the sand leaving the basket in the boat. Over the course of the three day journey the two children had discussed Math. They recalled a few problems that they had learned when they were younger. It was not much, but maybe it would be enough to help overcome the evil doings of Sinister Student. Dom had agreed that Maria could hold onto the magic pencil for now.

They left the boat behind and walked into the Wildering Wilds. They had to cross through the Rainbow River where Dom fell all the way in and was wet for the rest of the day. Beyond the river were the Monkey Mountains. It was trick not to disturb the nests of monkeys that thrived in the trees, or if woken- they would steal your hat. It was a great distance to the land of No School which lay at the end of everything and beyond nothing. If you have ever tried to find nothing, it is incredibly hard. Maria and Dom were considering giving up when they were bogged down in the middle of the Dark Desert when things began to disappear. Which was hard to tell anyway, because it was dark as the dead of night.

“I think we’re almost there. To nothing. Beyond that is the land of No School,” said Maria Marker.

Dom looked around and saw that the brush and sand simply was starting to stop and they were walking on what could have been cement from one angle or a line from another. It was hard to tell everything shifted when he turned. “There really is nothing,” he seemed surprised.

Maria charged ahead though she was exhausted she was eager to find No School and Ms. Good Teacher. Dom followed her. They walked for what could have been days maybe weeks, or just an hour. It was hard to tell as there was nothing to see. Finally, Maria and Dom could see a crest of darkness ahead and what looked to be a fire and smoke.

“I think I see it!” cried Dom.

“You’re right. That has to be No School,” said Maria.

They hurried, running toward the darkness. As they approached in the distance they could smell the stench of burning paper. “There!” Maria pointed to the fire off the road down a ways. She could see a huge pile of books burning. “Dom she’s burning books.”

“I know we don’t read much, but it just seems wrong to burn books,” said Dom. They walked silently down the road that had appeared beneath their feet. It was broken bricks thrown down unevenly; on either side of the road was a mixture of dead grass and gravel. To their left scattered in a field were old classroom desks falling apart, upside down, and weathered. To their right was the bonfire they had noticed. Further down the road were some old looking buildings they looked to be the center of this place. Near the buildings was a run-down playground.

When they were close enough to pass the playground, Maria saw that one of the swings was unhooked and rusted in places. The other was actually thrown over the top of the playset. Pieces of the jungle gym were rusty and falling off. The see-saw sat flat on the ground defeating the purpose of the game. And, the monkey bars were upside down.

“That does not look like a fun playground,” Dom pointed out. Maria nodded in agreement.

“Which building do you think Sinister Student is in?” asked Maria.

Dom shrugged, “Could be any of them. I guess we should just pick one.”

Maria lead them toward the center building which agreed with the darkness. It spiraled upward on one side giving it an eerie look, while the other side stretched out long and rectangular. It looked cathedral like. The old rotting letters on the outside read, Forest Hills Elementary, some were blacked out. Maria and Dom could tell that’s what it once said. There were two large oak front doors, where there once had been windows, the glass was shattered. Maria reached forward pulling one open; it creaked. Dom jumped forward right into Maria. She turned and gave a reproachful look.

Cautiously, they waked through the doors.

No School pt. 2

I just have to make a comment about how it is an amazingly historic day. It is one that I will remember for the rest of my life. (Insert Rainbow)

Now, onto the next subject- I started a short story sometime last year. Which you can find here- Once Upon a School. I have finally added to this story. I will still be adding the ending pretty soon here. But, I wanted to put the next installment up. However, I am considering changing the title of the story.


Cynthia the Great ushered the two students into her shimmering house. Pickle waddled inside; a trail of skittles dotting the ground behind him. Inside the house was extravagant. It was covered floor to ceiling in a layer of frosting that that magically re-iced itself to get rid of the footprints left behind by Maria and Dom as they followed Cynthia. The pretzel staircase dripping in peanut butter and jelly caught Maria’s eye. She licked her lips. Cynthia led the two under an archway into another room that looked as though it was made entirely of stained glass. But, when Dom went to have a closer look, he realized the walls were actually different flavors of jello molded together. They sat on seats made from giant lifesavers around a peppermint table. Cynthia the Great waved her hand and steaming hot bowls of soup appeared in front of them.

“Now, I understand you have come for my help?” she looked on as they slurped their soup. Pickle had gone off into some other room.

Maria Marker nodded her head vigorously, “It is our teacher. She’s been kidnapped by Sinister Student.”

“Yeah and the only way to get her back is to use magic,” interrupted Dom Decimal.

“But, we’ve never learned any magic. In fact, we haven’t learned much. I know how to make smoothies, play video games, and relax,” continued Maria, “but, I none of that will help against the antics of sinister student in the land of No School.”

Cynthia the Great smiled at the children, “Not to worry. I believe I know just the piece of magic that can defeat Sinister Student. However, you will have to access a very special power in order for it to work. Finish your dinner, and I will take you to the object.”

Maria and Dom slurped their soup as fast as they could. Not even bothering to use the napkins that had come with the meal. “Finished!”

Cynthia the Great rose gracefully from her seat and motioned for them to follow her once again. This time she lead them up the peanut butter and jelly-pretzel staircase. Maria looked down at her shoes they didn’t even stick in the mix- the magic was unreal. Cynthia lead them down a hallway which was surprisingly unremarkable compared to the rest of the house. She paused at a door covered in an assortment of wildflowers and pulled what looked to be a key from her pocket- but was actually a tiny buzzing bee. She held him up to the doorknob. There was a slight click and she put the bee back into her pocket pushing the door open with her other hand. The room was stark white and empty except a tiny pedestal in the center of the room. Maria and Dom followed Cynthia into the room with a hushed silence it seemed like a time to be utterly quiet.

Cynthia the Great led them up to the pedestal which had a glass casing over it. Through the glass Maria and Dom could see an ordinary number 2 pencil sitting on a velvet lining- perfectly sharpened.

Dom looked up, “A pencil? You want us to defeat Sinister Student with a pencil?” He looked absolutely flabbergasted. “How about a gun- or something with a little more umph!” Maria nudged him hoping to get him to shut-up, but she could help thinking he was right.

Cynthia only smiled at him her same smile, “This is no ordinary pencil. If used correctly, you can not only defeat Sinister Student, but rescue Ms. Good Teacher, and maybe learn something. It is a magic pencil. It will only work to defeat evil when used by a person  with the right power.”

“What power?” Maria Marker looked up at her.

“Ah now you are asking the right questions. It is the power of Math. Unlock the ability of Math within you and this pencil can do anything you want,” Cynthia the Great glowed with excitement, her turquoise gown began to shimmer. “Are you ready to try it?”

“I don’t know any Math,” exclaimed Dom Decimal.

“I think I know Math,” Maria furrowed her brows and scratched her head, “I can’t remember.”

Cynthia lifted the class covering setting it in the air beside her where it hovered ever so gracefully. She lifted the pencil as if it were made of glass itself and handed it to Maria Marker. “Now, use it to write this problem in the air,” explained Cynthia, “2 x 3 = 6.”

Maria Marker took the weightless pencil and wrote in the air as if it were an invisible blackboard (whatever that was- she had not been in real lesson for so long her memory was fuzzy). The numbers twinkled in the air as she wrote the problem Cynthia the Great had instructed. Maria’s arm tingled and the pencil vibrated as she completed the answer.

“All you have to do is ask the pencil to do whatever you want in your head once you finish the problem. Try it!” Cynthia giggled.

Maria wasn’t sure what to ask for, so she started small. A yapping sound could be heard suddenly. There standing at her feet was a tiny golden retriever puppy.

“A puppy?! You asked for a puppy? How will that help?” Dom looked at her eyes popping.

Maria shrugged.

“Very good,” said Cynthia the Great petting the puppy, “Now you have the gist. The more complicated the Math; the more power is supplied to the pencil. I know you can defeat Sinister Student. You should be off now. It is a long journey to the land of No School.” She led them out of the room. The puppy disappeared somewhere down the hallway as they trailed back down the goopy staircase. At the door Cynthia the Great looked at them still smiling, but a little less than before, “Good luck my friends.”

Pickle was waiting at the door to lead Maria Marker and Dom Decimal back to the shore. At the boat he squeaked goodbye to the pair. “Fair well! Here are some supplies from Miss Cynthia,” and he handed them a basket full of goodies.

The two students climbed, with the magic pencil and basket, into their boat waving goodbye to Pickle the Pandicorn. Hoping that whenever they made it to the land of No School their combined Math skills would be enough to defeat Sinister Student.

An Open Letter to Doug Ducey and Arizona Citizens

An Open Letter to Doug Ducey and Arizona Citizens:

Let’s begin by discussing the expectations that the districts of Arizona have for their publicly funded schools. No matter what location the school is in, the expectations are equal. What does this look like? Your school could have a large refugee, immigrant, low income, middle class, special education, or wealthy population and everyone is given the same state and/or district test. The expectation is that these students are prepared rigorously for these tests even if they are monolingual and have just moved here from another country, or are in specific sect of the special education program. The student might have no support system at home and are only thinking about where their next meal is coming from, or if they will have electricity when they get home. Rigor is the only option.

Then, no name politicians without an ounce of educational background come in and take out the curriculum that has been used across the state to support this rigor for the past three years. The students finally have some kind of familiarity and then they want to yank the ladder of support the teachers have been so carefully building. Furthermore, in an already under funded work place the governor is refusing to give money to his public institutions of education. If the rigor was lacking before, it will be non-existent now.

A government cannot expect its people to create something from nothing. They cannot expect teachers to create rigorous readers when there will be no more reading programs. They cannot expect teachers to create rigorous math students when after school programs will be cut. They cannot expect teachers to foster learning when music and sports will be cut. They cannot expect students to continue learning when those counselors and social workers who ensure the safety of the student outside the school will not be around.  They cannot expect teachers to continue down the path of public education when the government places no value in an institution that has been turning out some of the United States’ greatest minds over the last 200 years.

Our value is worth far more than the pittance we are paid. Which is obvious in the hours teacher devote in time spent not teaching but doing the job.

The expectation for teachers: to hold a child’s future in their hands. It is one of the most valuable and the most rewarding job in society.

If there was ever a teacher who had an impact on you, then stand against Doug Ducey and the corrupt politicians in Arizona. Secure YOUR child’s future. Do not let them take away your child’s or any child’s rights: to learn, to a valuable education.

Sincerely,

Alex K.

Middle School Teacher

The Old Connolly Place

Just entered this one into a contest. We’ll see I guess. You had to start with the line “I knew it was a mistake the moment it was over.” 750 words or less. Won’t know for two months.


 

The moment it was over, I knew it was a mistake, Ellis thought. The events of the day skittered through her head. She closed her eyes; the cool night air brushed its fingertips along her face bringing her back to the early morning breeze.

“Ellis did you finish last night’s calc for Haddock’s class?” Zac looked at her expectantly. Ellis glowered at him, but a smiled played on her lips. She took a crisp paper from her notebook, pushing it into his chest.

“I better have this back by lunch with payment.”

Zac leaned in, pecked her on the mouth, and ran toward homeroom yelling back to her, “Oh I’ll pay you alright.”

Dani walked up, “Why was Zac yelling?”

“You know, calc. Never does his homework.” Laughing the girls headed to class.

The fall air was soft as Ellis sat outside an apple in hand. Zac, Dani, Rex, and Lucy all crowded at the table for lunch. Zac handed the homework to Ellis, “Thanks hun,” then he whispered in her ear, “I’ll pay you later,” and winked. She snickered.

Dani looked over at them and raised an eyebrow, but said nothing. A few leaves from the oak tree standing over their table fluttered down cascading over the group. “Don’t look now, but he’s staring at you girls again,” Rex pointed. The girls glanced over to where Rex was gesturing. The new kid was watching Lucy and Ellis; his eyes were dark and intense.

“I’ll take care of this.”

“Zac!” But, Zac just waved Ellis away. They watched as he went over and spoke to the guy. The new kid nodded. There was a lot of gesturing, pointing back at their table. Then Zac returned.

“He’s going to meet us tonight at the Old Connolly Place,” he said.

“Did you tell him it was haunted?” Lucy asked.

“Yup.”

The bell rang deciding for them and they shrugged, grabbing their notebooks. The crew headed off to class.

A bright, enchanted moon hung low, covered by cottony clouds masquerading across the blackened sky. An eerie feeling crawled across Ellis’ neck. The group stood outside the Old Connolly Place. The dilapidated house had bricks and wood falling off the outside, there were gaps in the roof where tiles had fallen through or tumbled down the front. The new kid showed up on time, his name was Jon, Ellis heard him say.

“Jon, you go inside, upstairs, hangout for ten minutes. If we see you through the window, you’ll be in our crew,” explained Zac, “Hell, Lucy might even go on a date with you,” he laughed.

“I’ll what!?” Lucy stamped her foot looking at Zac. He just winked at her and she furrowed her brow even more and moved closer to Dani and Ellis.

“You got it?” Zac asked.

Jon nodded.

Ellis watched as Jon walked up the broken steps. Her sinking feeling was increasing by the minute. She didn’t think the house was haunted, but this seemed cruel. The door shut behind him. Creaking of the ancient stairs could be heard inside. There was a loud crash and a scream. Rex and Zac ran up, throwing open the rotting door which flew off the hinge.

Ellis stood back, peeking in from the doorway. A gaping hole was visible in the ceiling. On the floor, Jon lay unmoving. “What were we thinking?” she mumbled aloud.

 

No School

We have been working on fairy tales in my classroom for our family pride night. I decided to help motivate my students, and write them a fairy tale. I have been adding a little every day and using the same process as my students’ so that they can see how to create theirs. Though mine is quite a bit longer then their requirement. This is not complete, but I am putting up what I have so far. My students have really enjoyed me sharing my writing, their reaction is that this should be a Disney movie, also that I need to finish the story, so they can hear the end. I hope you enjoy it!

Once upon a time in the land of Party School a lovely lady called Ms. Good Teacher taught the best classes. The students’ favorite was her video games and cook class. They loved to play Call of Duty and make chocolate chip cookies in their portable ovens. Party School was a huge palace in the middle of a tropical island. It was surrounded by white, sand beaches and crystal blue water. There were hammocks strung from palm tree to palm tree where the students would nap between or during class. Ms. Good Teacher didn’t mind. She just brought them smoothies and arranged for Nate Nogum to hand out bendy straws. It was a good life.

One day, Ms. Good Teacher was playing Super Mario with Alexa Apple, one of the students, when a strange ship appeared on the horizon. It crept closer. There had never been any visitors at Party School. The boat was silent as it approached with a shadowy fog surrounding it. Ms. Good Teacher rushed everyone inside, “Lock the doors!” She cried.

“There are no doors!” screamed Maria Marker.

“There are no locks!” wailed Nate Nogum.

The students huddled together in the pillow room under the cover of a tower of  blankets and pillows; not sure what to expect. Ms. Good Teacher stood guarding the entry, a dusty yard stick in hand. She had pulled it from a storage closet that, as far as she knew, had never been opened. Nobody made a sound as the ship clanked to shore.

Someone could be heard traipsing through the Party School Palace. Clearly, the person was looking for someone or something. Smashing and crashing started faint but became louder as the person came closer. Ms Good Teacher held her ground. In front of her appeared a tiny little girl who could not have been more than eight years old. She had blonde ringlet, pigtails. Her clothes were ragged and torn, she had dirt streaks and smudges on her face and arms; there were no shoes on her feet, which gave off the putrid smell of rotten garbage.

The students quivered under the blankets. Ms. Good Teacher stared questioningly at the girl, “What do you want little girl?”

“I am no little girl. I am Sinister Student. I have come to take you to the land of No School. You can come quietly, or I can make you, ” Sinister said, a sneer on her twisted face.

“I will not leave my students unsafe and our land willingly,” Ms. Good Teacher replied. She did not waver.

Magic crackled on the tips of Sinister Student’s fingers, “Then, we’ll do this the hard way.” She waved her hand. Before Ms. Good Teacher had a chance to react, Sinister Student sent bolts of magic at her paralyzing Ms. Good Teacher. She collapsed onto the floor. “Finally,” cackled Sinister, “Party School will be no more. Sinister Student grabbed Ms. Good Teacher and dragged her back to the boat. She took her away to the land of No School, leaving the students terrified and distressed.

Maria Marker crawled out from the blankets, “What are we going to do? We have to get Ms. Good Teacher back.”

“I want Ms. Good Teacher back! I don’t want Party School to go away!” Cried Happy Hawkins. He sat down, pillow in his lap, with tears streaming down his face.

Maria Marker stood up, ripping the blanket from her, a look of determination crossed her face, “We have to save Ms. Good Teacher! Who’s with me?”

The students stepped back looking at each other ad shrugged. Party School had made them quite lazy, they didn’t want to do any more work then what was required. In fact, the land of No School sounded very enticing to them. Finally, a small, quiet boy stepped forward from behind the students. “I’ll help you rescue Ms. Good Teacher,” whispered Dom Decimal.

“We need magic to fight Sinister Student, without that, we will be powerless against her.” Maria Marker told Dom Decimal as they walked out of the palace and toward the boat shed.

“In one of the stories, before we came here, there was a nearby island. Cynthia the Great lives there. She has good magic that can help us,” Dom told Maria.

“Let’s go there first.” The two of them pushed a motorboat from the boat shed into the water and jumped in setting off toward Cynthia the Great’s island of magic.

Dom and Maria were parched, starving, and thinking they would probably never make it to the island after traveling for one whole day and night. “Land!” Croaked Maria.

A glowy, glittery outline appeared on the horizon. It could have been a mirage, but Dom confirmed it was the island of magic. All the dust in the air was Cynthia the Great’s magic dust. Maria Marker had been wondering if she would ever see water again when suddenly a pitcher of water appeared in her hand. She began gulping thirstily. At the same time a bucket of fried chicken appeared in Dom’s lap. He ate it ravenously.

Their boat hit the shore. They pulled it up into the sand. The air was dense with magic. This island was different from Party School; it was a dense forest, crawling with magical creatures. A plump, short pandicorn (half-panda, half-unicorn) approached Maria Marker and Dom Decimal on the beach. He spoke in a high pitched squeak, “Hi! You have come to see Cynthia the Great! I’m Pickle, I can lead you to her.” He jumped a little and skittles fell out of his tail.

Maria rubbed her ear and Dom looked a little frightened, but they stepped forward. “Lead the way,” said Dom. Pickle led them down a rainbow path into a sparkling forest of candy and music. Songs came from trees of licorice. The forest floor was made of gingerbread and sprinkles. Maria Marker and Dom Decimal were in awe; the rainbow path carried them through the magic forest a constant feeling of happiness spreading throughout their body.

After walking for fifteen minutes, they arrived at a glimmering house with a thousand fairies surrounding it. “This is the home of Cynthia the Great,” squealed Pickle. The door swung open and out stepped a young girl. She was wearing dazzling robes of turquoise down to her ankles. Her Cinnamon hair hung long, past her waist. She was breathtaking.

“Welcome, welcome,” she sang her voice like warm honey.

The Report

When I was little, I remember hearing that God is everywhere. Afterward, I looked at the trees, grass, on houses, cars, the street, pretty much everything. It became apparent God was hiding, because I couldn’t see God. What did it mean, God was everywhere? So, I just looked up. They must have meant God was floating in the clouds somewhere. Then I was really nervous, what if a plane crashed into God? Would the world end? There were too many questions as I thought about it further. Things only became more complicated.

The stench of sweat prickled at my nose. I sat in my seat, my leg jiggling up and down as I reviewed my note cards. A student was already at the front presenting. I was hardly listening. I focused on the Bunsen burner sitting in front of me, useless at the moment. The student who had been at the front returned to her seat. Clapping ensued.

I noticed people turning towards me. “Landon Smith!” Mr. O’Riley called, impatient. He must have just said this right before. My throat was dry. I jumped to my feet and approached the board, still shuffling my note cards. I turned to face the other students, wiping a few beads of sweat from my brow. “Whenever you’re ready, Landon.”

I pushed a some strands of stringy brown hair out of my face and looked at my first note card, “God created the Earth and all life.” I looked up to see the reactions of my classmates. So far, not much. I switched my card and continued, “Dinosaurs existed only because God set their bones here on Earth. We all descend from Noah.” I took a breath. They were looking at me as though I was the plague. I had expected it.

“Evolution is false, so I will not be discussing it,” I ended. There was no clapping. I returned to my seat.

“Mr. Smith, could you please stay after class a moment.” Mr. O’Riley didn’t sound to happy, I nodded.

Three other students, telling interesting stories about homosapiens and dinosaurs, gave their oral reports before the bell rang. There was a clatter of chairs and students filed out of the room. I didn’t move.

“Mr. Smith, I asked you to report on the evolutionary process we have been studying,” said Mr. O’Riley.

“I couldn’t.”

“It is not a matter of belief systems. It is about showing me what you have learned.”

“I’ll take the ‘F’.”

“I will have to contact your parents Mr. Smith, you may go.”

I got up and gently pushed in my chair. I dropped my cards into the recycle bin. Once again I flicked my hair out of my face. I am sure of what I believe. I looked high and low, in the corners and crevices, but I have never found God. I think that’s how you know God is with you. Everywhere you go, you carry God, so God is everywhere. I did the right thing, but my parents will never know. They died when I seven; right before my Grandma told me that thing about God.