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His name was Mr. T. He was our school's drama teacher. A great one too. He not only taught his students invaluable lessons about drama, but invaluable lessons about life. The first day I met him was my first day at a new school. I can honestly say the only reason I wasn't terrified about school was because he made everyone feel comfortable in his class. He told us in his class we will leave our ego at the door, and if anything happens in here that is seemingly embarrassing then it will stay in there too i.e. a friend dressing up as a girl to practice his part. Then he told us what we would do in his class. The classroom was a very informal setting, just a bunch of chairs in a semicircle with Mr. T in the middle. He joked and said the only way to fail his class was if you tried to fail. His class was the highlight of my day. Every day we would do something new. Learn a monologue. Come up with our own group pantomime, which is telling a story with no words. Look through makeup and costume catalogs. Juggle. Watch plays and the Broadway news. Then some days we would just sit and talk. About stealing, drugs, self-esteem, and any issues that were important to us. We found ourselves in that class. We developed to be more mature and enjoyed doing it as well. So the next semester after his class ended I auditioned for my first play, The Greek Mythology Olympaganza. Somehow I managed to learn even more during the creation of the play. Creativity, being able to react quickly when something goes wrong, responsibility, teamwork, and public speaking. Drama was like my second home and the cast and crew were like my second family. I made so many new friends and my self esteem went up.

I suppose this would have been where the first alarm should have gone off, Me and my friend Sammie were concerned about our best friend Leanna. Leanna had shown us something that had scarred us for a long time, we had no idea what to do. She had shown us cuts on her wrists and forearms. She said she hadn't shown anyone else. We hugged her, told her we loved her, and asked if we could do anything. Leanna said no. Later me and Sammie met up and we talked about what we should do to help Leanna. We were so afraid if we asked anyone else for help they would tell and send her away to the local Psych Hospital. So we went to the only adult we could trust. Mr. T. When we talked to him about Leanna he said she just wanted attention, the only way to help was to show her tough love. We didn't know that was wrong, we assumed that since he was Mr. T he had to be right. We trusted him. So we did what we said, took his advice and treated Leanna no differently from normal, showed her some tough love. Needlessly said she didn't get any better, she got worse. I know now that if we had gone to Guidance, or any other adult the outcome would have been much different, she could be better. I regret my decision to take Mr. T's advice greatly.

The next year I was in eighth grade, and I had Mr. T's drama class the second semester. So I auditioned for his 1st play of the year, Dracula. I had some of the same experiences, drama was therapeutic to me. Then the second semester came and I was in a class of about nine other people for drama. We were ecstatic because since the class was so small we were going to get to do more than the other classes, we were going to learn prosthetics, makeup, and paint a set. I got to see Mr. T twice a day, since I had both his class and I had auditioned for his 2nd play of the year, Wyrd Sisters. We put on the play and once again I was so happy, I truly felt I was part of something beautiful and amazing.

Then in the last nine weeks of school Mr. T didn't show up for class. We weren't that concerned since even though he was supposed to be back today from his trip to States competition with his students, we figured it could have run late. Then our dean walked into the room and took some stuff out of Mr. T's office and then locked his office, and left. I got that feeling, the feeling in the pit of your stomach that something is wrong, but I couldn't prove it. He still didn't show up for days, and we heard no news about him, his office remained locked. Then we finally heard something, and it made everyone so mad. The school had told Mr. T that he should either resign or they would be forced to fire him. Then we learned the school board had forced our school to do this.

The next day was absolutely miserable. Only now can I actually recall that the weather had actually matched our moods, slightly drizzling and very cloudy. People were in their own huddles before school crying, remembering all the times in Mr. T's class or at the plays. We were so caught up in our own sorrow we didn't even care why Mr. T had been forced to resign. Apparently he had brought a real gun as a prop to the competition and had acted slightly sexual towards his students. The parents had lodged a formal complaint against him with the school board. We weren't that concerned about the gun, we thought that was normal. We didn't know any better. As for the sexual behavior we flat out didn't believe that. The day after that we sent angry e-mails to the school board and started a petition that got almost 600 signatures until the school threatened to give everyone who had their name on the petition a detention. I did all of this, I wasn't just sad anymore, I was angry. We finally got a new drama teacher and even though everyone had pledged not to treat her badly we were upset and it was easy to take it out on her. However she was a great teacher and we warmed up to her. I regret the way we treated her. The next year at the very beginning of school another article was released. Right when you think all of the ruckus would have calmed down it just got worse.

Mr. T had been arrested and charged with hundreds of sexual charges, statutory rape, child pornography, or just relationships with underage students. I was appalled, we were appalled. This wasn't true. We felt so angry that someone would say that. The police had portrayed the students as victims. I was so caught up in my own rage I didn't even consider it true. Until a couple of weeks later Leanna admitted to me that Mr. T had photographed her inappropriately. Then it was no question. I was mad at Mr. T. How could he have done this? I crossed out his name on all of my play T-shirts. I refused to believe he was innocent anymore. However, I couldn't talk to anyone about what I felt. Bringing up his name started argument after argument about whether he was innocent or guilty.

The one thing he didn't ruin was drama. Even though we all thought that Mr. T was what made the program great, we realized we had just as much fun without him. Drama was what taught me those lessons, and even though Mr. T was the voice that delivered the message it was the best lesson about life I could ever learn. I am still in drama, and even though people still won't talk about Mr. T ,now because of how we were so upset that he had betrayed us, I will always love drama, and everything I have learned there.



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