Saturday, June 11, 2005


Tenth grade was, in our school district, the time when you left the junior high and began to attend the high school. It was also the time when you began taking classes with the older students- and heaven help you if you weren't in one of their 'cliques'- you were either vermin or, if you were lucky, invisible. I took a Speech class- there was one other sophomore in it and her name was Diane.

Speech was oral interpretation, debate, drama and oratory all wrapped up in one. It was taught by Big Karl, who was a fierce bear of a man, always challenging and pushing his students. He was a great teacher. I was mouthy, opinionated and a bit of a misfit(some things don't change) and loved the class. Diane was painfully shy, had zero self-esteem, was dowdy and overweight. No one spoke to her. The other kids, the juniors and seniors, were jocks and their girlfriends, and were merciless in their disdain for anyone not in the 'in crowd'.

This made for some tough days in class. Karl would orate a bit to start the class, 'The Mechanics of Speech' was a favorite topic. Then he would get called out of class for some reason, and the class would go into the 'socialization mode', discussing parties past and future, who's seeing who, etc., until Karl returned. Diane said nothing. Then we would give our speeches, or other projects, and the students would snicker and Karl would comment. Diane said nothing. When it was her turn to speak, she was barely audible, stammering and blushing. Karl always took time to comment and suggest things for her to work on.

Later, I heard that she had been abused for years. She didn't get much joy out of her childhood or her schooling. The sad part of this story is that I never spoke to her either.

By Professor Batty


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