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The School Rebellion
All was not well at the school. For years it seemed, the children had been ignored and maltreated. They had been given undercooked or overcooked lunches to the point of inedibility. Some of the younger kids thought the definition of recess was to go outside and get beaten with a ruler. And finally Akila could stand it no longer.
She had a plan. It would take a lot of courage and a lot of luck. But if the other kids would cooperate she was sure it would work. She went to school that day, as always. The secretary, Ms. Solomon, took attendance in the morning. The kids promptly answered her with an efficient ‘here’. If anyone forgot or was absent, another kid said it for them. Ms. Solomon was known to whack anyone who didn’t instantly respond or was late with her attendance book, right on the back of the head. Then Akila bought a pencil from the grammar teacher for $3.50 after ‘unexpectedly’ losing hers. So did all the other kids. In math class, calculators were five dollars, and in science that day they were doing a chemistry experiment and safety goggles were four twenty-five. By the time it was lunch period she didn’t have any money left for food, but that was alright. They served undercooked hamburgers with a side of blackened fries. Rocks, really. One kid ate a hamburger and threw up a few minutes later. Akila just stood by and grimaced, knowing it would be over soon.
After lunch it was gym. Their teacher, Mr. Tanner, made them run laps around the gym as fast as they could for the whole hour. He carried a whip, and every time somebody slowed down he would crack the whip right next to their ear. He never hit anyone, so the kids really couldn’t complain, but it was terrifying because you knew very well that if he wanted you would be out before you even had a chance to scream.
At the end of the day was Social Studies. This year they were learning about Africa. This week they were just learning where all the countries went. If anyone got anything wrong, which they often did, the teacher would take away a pair of goggles, a pencil, or a calculator. Tomorrow they would have to buy them again and then she would take them again. It was an endless cycle.
During the very last ten minutes every kid in the school, kindergarten to fifth grade would walk very quietly in alphabetical order into the assembly room. There the principal, Mr. Muldon, would congratulate them on what wonderful students they were, and how he was looking forward to seeing them again the next day. Today was a little different. There was a man standing next to him. “Children, I would like you to meet my son, Gary. I will be training him to be the next principal of this school once I retire next year. For now he will be my vice-principal. You will address him as Mr. Muldon. You will now address me as Sir. Gary, would you like to say anything?” Mr. Muldon, or Sir now, got down off the podium, and Mr. Muldon stepped up and said, in a very quiet, grave voice, “Children. My name is Gary Muldon. I will now be chief of organization and obedience. I will also be in charge of punishment should any of the rules be broken. Do I make myself clear?”
All the children nodded, and class was dismissed. Everyone got up slowly and walked slowly to the door, then walked slowly across the recess grounds. Not until they were off campus did they all break into a terrified run, leaping and cavolting desperately to get back to the safety of their houses.
Later that evening all the children met in Akila’s basement. Carlo Point, the town they lived in, was fairly small, and all the children lived close to each other. Akila cleared her throat for attention. “Okay, um. Hi, my name is Akila. I know a lot of you are scared at school. Well, I have a plan to make it stop. First I need to know if anyone here has any special capabilities.”
A kid with a red face and freckles tentatively rose his hand. Akila nodded encouragingly. “I’m not Mr. Muldon. I won’t yell at you for talking. Go ahead.”
“I can burp whenever I want to!” he crowed proudly. Akila smiled. “Good,” she said, “is there anyone else?”
Another kid in the back said, “I can do a back handspring.”
Before Akila could say anything, a little girl in the back said, “I can curl up like this and hide in really small places. I hide from Ms. Teacher sometimes because she’s scary.”
Soon kids were clamoring to be heard. “Quiet, please!” Akila said. “I promise I won’t hurt you like the teachers do, but I need you to talk one at a time! You in the back, did you have something to say?”
“I can . . . um . . . make my daddy’s computer crash so he can’t work so he will play ball outside with me. Please don’t tell him.”
She pointed to another. “I know karate!” he said triumphantly.
“I can climb a rope all the way to the top!” cried another.
“I can walk on my hands for ten feet!”
“I can crawl through this tiny little space under my house to a secret cave. I go there sometimes when I am sad.”
“I can make myself throw up!”
When Akila had heard everybody, she settled them all down. Then she said, “Now I’m going to take a vote. How many people like Sir?” No one rose their hands. “How many people here like Mr. Muldon?” No response. “How many people like having to pay for pencils and calculators? How many people like having no lunch?” Still no response. “How many people want to get new teachers?” Every single kid rose their hand. “How many kids want to know what it’s like to slide down that big yellow slide in the recess grounds?” All the hands stayed up. “How many people want to scare the teachers so badly that they all leave?” A few hands went down, but Akila forged on.
“We can do these things, and so much more! I’m sure none of us enjoy being beaten with rulers and tortured with the sight of toys but not being able to play with them. All we need to do is band together. I know the teachers are scary, and I know there is a security system to avoid, but think about it! There are only about fifteen of them and one hundred of us! That’s six kids for every one teacher. I know some of you are scared, but if we can be a team instead of one hundred frightened kids, we can do anything! Who’s with me?” For a moment there was only silence. Akila’s stomach wrenched as she saw failure. But one small kid stood up nervously and said, “Me.”
That was all it took. Soon there was a crazed shouting of excitement filling the basement. Akila smiled. “Alright everybody, I have a plan. It requires every single kid here to do something. You will all need to use your special talents. Is that alright with everyone? Good. Here’s the plan . . .”
The next day was Thursday, May 2nd. Teacher Appreciation day. The perfect day for a revolt.
They had already completed phase one. Those who were quiet and small led the way into the building, where they disabled the intercom and security system. The small girl who had spoken the night before about being able to fit in tight spaces and the boy who could crawl under his house, Mariah and Seth, were positioned on the ventilation shafts ready to attack.
The children filed into class, as usual. Each kid had hidden a poster in their desk earlier that day. All the children had brought lunches to eat, which was against the rules. Each kid knew the secret sign language telling them when to strike.
Ms. Solomon began role call. “Akila?” No response. “Akila?” she said more loudly. She spotted Akila in the back row. Calm down. Akila thought to herself. She smiled and remained silent. Ms. Solomon walked slowly toward Akila. “Last chance Akila.” She said. Akila remained tightlipped, but made a quick hand gesture under her desk. At the last second before the attendance book came down on her head, a little boy ran up behind Ms. Solomon and tapped her on the shoulder. “Excuse me?” he said. She turned around, and what remained of his breakfast poured onto her skirt. She screamed. That was the cue. All the kids in all the classes throughout the school attacked their teachers.
The kindergartners had the toughest time, but they had been previously armed with lots and lots of duct tape, and a fourth grader came in just in time and whacked Ms. Teacher on the head with a frying pan from the kitchen. Soon she was a duct tape mummy, with nothing but her eyes, nose, and mouth showing through.
In the first grade classroom Mr. Shefford was being attacked with water guns that had been filled with alcohol. While he tried to get the stuff out of his mouth and nose Mariah jumped down through a vent onto his head and secured a gag around his mouth. The rest of the kids took it from there, tying him up securely to his chair, then stapling him to it through his clothes just in case.
The second graders held their breath while Seth dropped something he had found in the chemistry lab labeled “Chloroform” at the teachers feet. The children left the room for a few moments while the teacher passed out on the floor. When the air was clear, they used some rope to tie him by his feet to the ceiling vent. As he hung their upside down the children giggled and ran out.
The third graders had three cans of silly spray each and were mercilessly coating the teacher in it. He tried to reach the principal through the intercom. When they finally ran out of silly spray the back handspring kid kicked him in the chest. Wind knocked out of him, it was easy to lock him inside the closet.
The teacher in the fourth grade class was the easiest to subdue. She was used to playing sudoku while the children worked. The kid who knew karate took her down easily, and the rest of the kids set about stuffing her under her desk. Once done, they shoved the desk against the wall, trapping her beneath it. Then they barricaded it with bookshelves, other desks, and anything they could find, making sure they left her some breathing holes. They weren’t trying to kill her after all.
The fifth graders had gym first that day. As they set about running their laps, one of the kids threw a piece of food at the teacher. Then another, and another. Mr. Tanner cracked his whip in whatever direction the food came from, but the kids were ready for it and the whip was only so long. It was Akila’s job to take the whip from him. That was a difficult task, one that almost cost her. As she grabbed the whip post-crack, he grabbed her by the hair. As she screamed in agony another fifth grader yanked the whip out of his hand and smacked him with it, causing Mr. Tanner to drop Akila. She kicked him in the shin, causing him to fall down, and they tied him up with his own whip. Then the kid who could climb to the top of the rope did so, and climbed up into the vent which Mariah had so conveniently opened for him.
Now it was time to take on the principal. They knew it would be tough, and his son would be there too. But all the kids, kindergarten to fifth grade marched right into his office. It was a very tight squeeze. Akila pushed her way to the front.
“Sir. We are no longer accepting your authority. You have one minute to leave the grounds of this school before we attack.”
He recoiled. “That’s absurd. Get back to your classes.”
Akila was unfazed. “No, I don’t think that is what we need. Thirty seconds, sir.”
“You don’t have the authority to kick me out. I’m staying right–”
“NOW!” Akila yelled. Four kids dropped down from the ceiling vent onto Mr. Muldon Sr. He was forced onto the ground, where he was held by two boys who had been taking wrestling and aikido while he was put through everything the other teachers had been through combined. He was knocked out with chloroform, whacked with a frying pan, duct taped together mummy-style, covered in silly string, then hung from the ceiling of the closet upside down while his desk and other various items in his room held the door locked.
Just as the kids began celebrating, a cold voice came from behind. “Children, recess is over.” Akila turned around. Mr. Muldon Jr., armed with a staple gun, stood grinning in the doorway. Oh no . . . Akila thought in horror. What now?
But when she thought all was lost a kid tapped Mr. Muldon on the shoulder. “Pardon me, but –” It was the loudest, most spectacular belch in the history of the world. While Mr. Muldon stared at the boy in disgust Akila struck. She grabbed the staple gun. “Close the door!” she screamed as she started firing the staple gun. The boy did so, and in little or no time the vice-principal was stapled to the doorway. They then used what remained of the duct tape to keep him there. It was just then that Mr. Muldon Sr. began stirring in the closet. He banged on the door several times. “Let me out of here!”
“Not until you resign,” Akila said calmly.
“Fine! I resign! I make . . . Ms. Solomon in charge.”
“No sir. Try again.”
“Then I make Mr. Tanner in charge. He’ll whip you into shape literally.”
“No sir. We aren’t going to have anyone from here be in charge. We will open the door to give you the phone, but we will not untie you. We are armed with a staple gun. On the phone, you must resign, the hand the phone to me. Understood?”
All weekend the police were investigating the school, interrogating the children and parents, and keeping the teachers in jail until their trials. On Monday a new staff of teachers was waiting. The kindergartners got to know what it was like to slide down a slide. And as years went by, although other memories got distant and foggy, none of the kids (or the teachers) ever forgot the Teacher Appreciation Day rebellion.